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Similar problems, different solutions: Comparing refuse collection in the Netherlands and Spain


  • Germà Bel

    () (Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona)

  • Elbert Dijkgraaf

    () (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Xavier Fageda

    () (Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona)

  • Raymond Gradus

    () (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


Local public service provision can vary greatly because of differences in institutional arrangements, public service markets, and national traditions regarding government intervention. In this paper we compare the procedures adopted by the local governments of the Netherlands and Spain in arranging for the provision of solid waste collection. We find that Spain faces a consolidation problem, opting more frequently to implement policies of privatization and cooperation, at the expense of competition. By contrast, the Netherlands has, on average, larger municipalities, resorting somewhat less to privatization and cooperation, and more to competition. The two options - cooperation and competition - have their merits when striving to strike a balance between transaction costs and scale economies. The choices made in organizational reform seem to be related to several factors, among which the nature of the political system and the size of municipalities appear to be relevant.

Suggested Citation

  • Germà Bel & Elbert Dijkgraaf & Xavier Fageda & Raymond Gradus, 2008. "Similar problems, different solutions: Comparing refuse collection in the Netherlands and Spain," IREA Working Papers 200815, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Nov 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:ira:wpaper:200815

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    Local governments; contracting-out; privatization; inter-municipal cooperation.;

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