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This empirical study discusses both the incentive and redistributive effects of nonlinear tariffs on the drinking water of developed countries. Using an original panel database based on a natural experience with drinking water in France, we econometrically explore the impact of tariffs changes on consumption (linear versus nonlinear). We demonstrate that this measure reduces global consumption. However, small consumers ( > 75 m3) benefit from the new tariff program and increase their consumption, whereas the consumption of the others ( > 75 m3) decreases. Public policy implications of such tariffs on drinking water may lead to a discussion on the design of these tariffs and the quality of the information given on water consumption.
As first noticed by Coase (1946), a standard result in utility regulation is that efficiency requires two-part tariffs with marginal prices set to marginal costs and fixed fees equal to each customer’ s share of fixed costs. Residential water customers in France face marginal prices for water that average about 8% more than marginal costs. Under price elasticity estimates that are consistent with previous results in the literature, efficiency costs represent around 8 million euros of welfare losses for 2008. Even though the impact is fairly small, current price schedules are an important pre-existing distortion which should be considered when evaluating current taxes aimed at addressing external costs. Moreover, efficiency gains from reformed tariffs could be used to fund water assistance programs focused on financially stressed households.
The privatization of the water industry has aroused interest in comparing the performance of public vs. private water companies. However, little research has been conducted to compare the performances of full private (FPWCs) and concessionary water companies (CWCs). This study estimates and compares the productivity growth and its drivers (efficiency, technical and scale change) for a sample of Chilean FPWCs and CWCs over the 2007–2015 period using the input distance function. Both types of water companies showed deteriorations in productivity growth, with CWCs exhibiting higher rates of negative productivity growth than FPWCs. For FPWCs, any gains in efficiency and scale were outstripped by negative technical change. CWCs did not improve their performance in any of the three components of productivity change. The comparison of productivity change between FPWCs and CWCs is essential to support decision-making therefore, this study is of great interest for policymakers worldwide who are developing policies aimed at privatizing water companies.