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Quantitative studies of water and sanitation utilities: a literature survey


  • Berg, Sanford V
  • Marques, Rui Cunha


This paper performs a literature update of quantitative studies of water and sanitation services (WSS). There are 190 studies which use cost or production functions to evaluate the performance of WSS utilities. The studies examine (1) the scale, scope or density economies of utilities in a particular country or region, (2) the influence of ownership on efficiency, (3) the existence and power of incentives associated with different governance systems (including external regulation), and (4) performance assessment (benchmarking). In addition, this paper presents some patterns regarding quantitative methods adopted over time and major trends in results.

Suggested Citation

  • Berg, Sanford V & Marques, Rui Cunha, 2010. "Quantitative studies of water and sanitation utilities: a literature survey," MPRA Paper 32891, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:32891

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Léopold Simar & Paul Wilson, 2000. "Statistical Inference in Nonparametric Frontier Models: The State of the Art," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 49-78, January.
    2. Pedro Simões & Rui Cunha Marques, 2009. "Influence of Congestion Efficiency on the European Seaports Performance: Does It Matter?," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(4), pages 517-539, July.
    3. Fried, Harold O. & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Shelton S. (ed.), 1993. "The Measurement of Productive Efficiency: Techniques and Applications," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072181.
    4. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    5. Meeusen, Wim & van den Broeck, Julien, 1977. "Efficiency Estimation from Cobb-Douglas Production Functions with Composed Error," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(2), pages 435-444, June.
    6. Steven Renzetti & Diane P. Dupont, 2009. "Measuring the Technical Efficiency of Municipal Water Suppliers: The Role of Environmental Factors," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(4), pages 627-636.
    7. Ford, J L & Warford, J J, 1969. "Cost Functions for the Water Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 53-63, November.
    8. Vining, Aidan R & Boardman, Anthony E, 1992. "Ownership versus Competition: Efficiency in Public Enterprise," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 205-239, March.
    9. Luis R. Murillo-Zamorano, 2004. "Economic Efficiency and Frontier Techniques," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 33-77, February.
    10. W. Liu & W. Meng & X. Li & D. Zhang, 2010. "DEA models with undesirable inputs and outputs," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 173(1), pages 177-194, January.
    11. Cazals, Catherine & Florens, Jean-Pierre & Simar, Leopold, 2002. "Nonparametric frontier estimation: a robust approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 1-25, January.
    12. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
    13. Sanford Berg & Chen Lin, 2008. "Consistency in performance rankings: the Peru water sector," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(6), pages 793-805.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carvalho, Pedro & Marques, Rui Cunha & Berg, Sanford, 2012. "A meta-regression analysis of benchmarking studies on water utilities market structure," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 40-49.
    2. Ferro, Gustavo & Lentini, Emilio J. & Mercadier, Augusto C. & Romero, Carlos A., 2013. "Eficiencia en la prestación de agua y saneamiento y su vinculación con regiones, propiedad e independencia de los prestadores en Brasil
      [Efficiency in water and sanitation providers and its links w
      ," MPRA Paper 48247, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Marques, Rui Cunha & De Witte, Kristof, 2011. "Is big better? On scale and scope economies in the Portuguese water sector," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 1009-1016, May.
    4. Francisco González-Gómez & Miguel García‐Rubio & Francisco Alcalá-Olid & M. Ortega-Díaz, 2013. "Outsourcing and Efficiency in the Management of Rural Water Services," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 27(3), pages 731-747, February.
    5. Molinos-Senante, María & Maziotis, Alexandros & Sala-Garrido, Ramón, 2014. "The Luenberger productivity indicator in the water industry: An empirical analysis for England and Wales," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 18-28.
    6. Giulia Romano & Andrea Guerrini & Silvia Vernizzi, 2013. "Ownership, Investment Policies and Funding Choices of Italian Water Utilities: An Empirical Analysis," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 27(9), pages 3409-3419, July.
    7. Anne-Kathrin Faust & Andrea Baranzini, 2014. "The economic performance of Swiss drinking water utilities," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 383-397, June.
    8. Romano, Giulia & Guerrini, Andrea, 2011. "Measuring and comparing the efficiency of water utility companies: A data envelopment analysis approach," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 202-209.
    9. Ferro, Gustavo & Romero, Carlos A. & Covelli, María Paula, 2011. "Regulation and performance: A production frontier estimate for the Latin American water and sanitation sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 211-217.
    10. Andrea Guerrini & Giulia Romano & Bettina Campedelli, 2013. "Economies of Scale, Scope, and Density in the Italian Water Sector: A Two-Stage Data Envelopment Analysis Approach," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 27(13), pages 4559-4578, October.
    11. Meryem Duygun & Silvia Pazzi & Emili Tortosa-Ausina & Simona Zambelli, 2014. "Does local public ownership matter for the efficiency of water utilities? Evidence from Italy," Working Papers 2014/21, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).

    More about this item


    benchmarking; water and sanitation utilities; literature survey;

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities


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