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Bringing Citizens Back In: Renewing Public Service Regulation


  • Clifton, Judith
  • Díaz-Fuentes, Daniel
  • Fernández Gutiérrez, Marcos
  • Revuelta, Julio


This essay concerns the ways in which public services – particularly household services such as communications, energy, water and transportation – have been regulated and deregulated, and analyses what consequences this has for users and citizens. Much of the deregulation of public services from the 1980s – liberalization, privatization and New Public Management – was justified by claims that reform would provide users with more choice, whilst they would receive cheaper and better quality services. Little account was taken of the fact that users are highly heterogeneous, that socio-economic differences might be important in determining their consumption of public services, and that this may not lead to socially optimum outcomes. By examining consumption patterns in two large European countries, Spain and the UK, through an analysis of revealed and declared preferences, this paper sheds light on how socio-economic differences among households help determine public service consumption. The main findings are that the supposed benefits of public service deregulation are not evenly spread across populations, and that specifically targeted “bottom-up” regulation from the demand-side could usefully address these issues, thus improving social welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Clifton, Judith & Díaz-Fuentes, Daniel & Fernández Gutiérrez, Marcos & Revuelta, Julio, 2011. "Bringing Citizens Back In: Renewing Public Service Regulation," MPRA Paper 33051, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:33051

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emanuele BACCHIOCCHI & Massimo FLORIO & Marco GAMBARO, 2008. "Telecom prices, regulatory reforms, and consumers’ satisfaction: evidence for 15 EU countries," Departmental Working Papers 2008-10, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano, revised 20 Jun 2008.
    2. Carlo Vittorio FIORIO & Massimo FLORIO, 2008. "Do you pay a fair price for electricity? Consumers’ satisfaction and utility reform in the EU," Departmental Working Papers 2008-12, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    3. Carlo Vittorio FIORIO & Massimo FLORIO & Silvia SALINI & Pieralda FERRARI, 2007. "European consumers’ attitudes on services of general interest: accessibility, price and quality," Departmental Working Papers 2007-04, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    4. Judith Clifton & Daniel Díaz-Fuentes, 2010. "Evaluating Eu Policies On Public Services: A Citizens' Perspective," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(2), pages 281-311, June.
    5. Kahneman, Daniel, 2002. "Maps of Bounded Rationality," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2002-4, Nobel Prize Committee.
    6. Judith Clifton & Francisco Comín & Daniel Díaz Fuentes, 2005. "‘Empowering Europe'S Citizens’?," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 417-443, September.
    7. Fabienne Ilzkovitz & Adriaan Dierx & Nuno Sousa, 2008. "An analysis of the possible causes of product market malfunctioning in the EU: First results for manufacturing and service sectors," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 336, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
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    More about this item


    Regulation; Privatization; Public Services; Telecommunications; Electricity; Gas and water;

    JEL classification:

    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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