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Do Markets Reduce Costs? Assessing the Impact of Regulatory Restructuring on U.S. Electric Generation Efficiency


  • Kira Markiewicz
  • Nancy L. Rose
  • Catherine Wolfram


While neoclassical models assume static cost-minimization by firms, agency models suggest that firms may not minimize costs in less-competitive or regulated environments. We test this using a transition from cost-of-service regulation to market-oriented environments for many U.S. electric generating plants. Our estimates of input demand suggest that publicly-owned plants, whose owners were largely insulated from these reforms, experienced the smallest efficiency gains, while investor-owned plants in states that restructured their wholesale electricity markets improved the most. The results suggest modest medium-term efficiency benefits from replacing regulated monopoly with a market-based industry structure.

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  • Kira Markiewicz & Nancy L. Rose & Catherine Wolfram, 2004. "Do Markets Reduce Costs? Assessing the Impact of Regulatory Restructuring on U.S. Electric Generation Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 11001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11001
    Note: IO PR EEE

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    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L43 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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