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

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  • Carl T. Kitchens
  • Taylor Jaworski

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Carl T. Kitchens & Taylor Jaworski, 2016. "Ownership and the Price of Residential Electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935-1940," NBER Working Papers 22254, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22254
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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