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The Benefits of Privatization: Evidence from Mexico

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  • Rafael La Porta
  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silane

Abstract

Criticisms of privatization have centered around the possibility that the observed higher profitability of privatized companies comes at the expense of the rest of society. In this paper we focus on two of the most likely channels for social losses: (1) increased prices as firms capitalize on the market power; and (2) layoffs and lower wages as firms seek to roll back generous labor contracts. Using data for all 218 non-financial privatizations that took place in Mexico between 1983 and 1991 we find that privatized firms quickly bridge the pre-privatization performance gap with industry-matched control groups. For example, privatization is followed by a 24 percentage point increase in the ratio of operating income to sales. We roughly decompose those gains in profitability as follows: 10 percent of the increase is due to higher product prices; 33 percent of the increase represents a transfer from laid-off workers; and productivity gains account for the residual 57 percent. Transfers from society to the firm are partially offset by taxes which absorb slightly over half the gains in operating income. Finally, we also find evidence indicating that deregulation is associated with faster convergence to industry benchmarks.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane, 1997. "The Benefits of Privatization: Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 6215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6215
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    1. Caves, Richard E., 1990. "Lessons from privatization in Britain : State enterprise behavior, public choice, and corporate governance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 145-169, March.
    2. Megginson, William L & Nash, Robert C & van Randenborgh, Matthias, 1994. " The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: An International Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(2), pages 403-452, June.
    3. Florencio López-de-Silanes, 1997. "Determinants of Privatization Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 965-1025.
    4. Alfred E. Kahn, 1988. "The Economics of Regulation: Principles and Institutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262610523, January.
    5. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, January.
    6. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025.
    7. Shapiro, C. & Willing, D.R., 1990. "Economic Rationales For The Scope Of Privatization," Papers 41, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
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