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Ownership and the Price of Residential Electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935-1940

Listed author(s):
  • Carl T. Kitchens
  • Taylor Jaworski

In this paper, we quantify the difference between public and private prices of residential electricity immediately before and after major federal reforms in the 1930s and 1940s. Previous research found that public prices were lower in a sample of large, urban markets. Based on new data covering over 15,000 markets and nearly all electricity generated for residential consumption, we find the difference between public and private prices was small in 1935 and negligible in 1940 for typical levels of monthly consumption. These findings are consistent with a market for ownership that helped to discipline electricity prices during this period. That is, private rents were mitigated by the threat that municipalities would use public ownership to respond to constituent complaints and public rents were limited by electoral competition and the growth of private provision.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 22254.

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Date of creation: May 2016
Publication status: published as Carl T. Kitchens & Taylor Jaworski, 2016. "Ownership and the price of residential electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935–1940," Explorations in Economic History, .
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22254
Note: DAE
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