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Economies of Scale and Technical Efficiency in Community Water Systems

Author

Listed:
  • Pizer, William

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Harrington, Winston

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Shih, Jhih-Shyang

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Gillingham, Kenneth

Abstract

In this study we use datasets from the 1995 and 2000 Community Water Supply surveys to examine the production costs of water supply systems. We first estimate the economies of scale in water supply by estimating the total unit cost as well as individual component cost elasticities. For total unit cost elasticity, we find that a 1% increase in production reduces unit costs by a statistically significant 0.16%. For individual component cost elasticities, we find that higher economies of scale exist in capital costs, outside costs, other costs, and materials costs; labor costs and energy costs exhibit lower but still positive economies of scale. These economies of scale may reflect production economies or suggest that larger systems are better than smaller systems at bargaining and can obtain inputs at a lower unit cost. Importantly, bargaining gains and some production economies do not necessarily depend on water systems’ becoming physically interconnected.

Suggested Citation

  • Pizer, William & Harrington, Winston & Shih, Jhih-Shyang & Gillingham, Kenneth, 2004. "Economies of Scale and Technical Efficiency in Community Water Systems," Discussion Papers dp-04-15, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-04-15
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Kopp, Raymond J. & Mullahy, John, 1990. "Moment-based estimation and testing of stochastic frontier models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1-2), pages 165-183.
    3. R. D. Banker & A. Charnes & W. W. Cooper, 1984. "Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(9), pages 1078-1092, September.
    4. Indranil Bardhan & William Cooper & Subal Kumbhakar, 1998. "A Simulation Study of Joint Uses of Data Envelopment Analysis and Statistical Regressions for Production Function Estimation and Efficiency Evaluation," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 249-278, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Vidoli, Francesco, 2011. "Evaluating the water sector in Italy through a two stage method using the conditional robust nonparametric frontier and multivariate adaptive regression splines," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 212(3), pages 583-595, August.
    3. Saal David S. & Arocena Pablo & Maziotis Alexandros & Triebs Thomas, 2013. "Scale and Scope Economies and the Efficient Vertical and Horizontal Configuration of the Water Industry: A Survey of the Literature," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 93-129, March.
    4. Ferro, Gustavo & Lentini, Emilio & Mercadier, Augusto & Romero, Carlos A., 2010. "Retornos a escala en agua y saneamiento: estimaciones para América Latina
      [Returns to scale in water and sanitation: estimates for Latin Amercia]
      ," MPRA Paper 20324, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jan 2010.
    5. Walter, Matthias & Cullmann, Astrid & von Hirschhausen, Christian & Wand, Robert & Zschille, Michael, 2009. "Quo vadis efficiency analysis of water distribution? A comparative literature review," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 225-232, September.
    6. 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.
    7. Michele Benvenuti & Elena Gennari, 2008. "Water services in Italy: implementation of the reform and efficiency of providers," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 23, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    small water systems; water supply; capacity development; economies of scale; community water systems;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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