Chapter

Seeking a Premier-League Economy

Edited by Richard Green and Jonathan Haskel

in Seeking a Premier Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2004 | ISBN: 9780226092843
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226092904 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226092904.003.0003
Seeking a Premier-League Economy

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In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, publicly owned companies produced roughly 12 percent of GDP in the United Kingdom. By the time of the election of the Labour government in 1997, this figure had fallen to 2 percent. At least in the United Kingdom, public ownership seems to have been discredited. What were the origins of privatization in the United Kingdom? Was the policy the natural outcome of Conservative thinking, or was it a decisive break from the past? Why has privatization proved so enduring? Why is renationalization off the agenda? Did privatization raise productivity in the companies concerned? If it did not, what future steps concerning privatization or the privatized companies can be taken that might improve performance? This chapter addresses these questions. It looks at the privatization of utilities in the country and reviews the evidence on the effects of privatization on productive efficiency, product quality, public-sector labor unions, and attitudes toward privatization. It also examines contracting out and the private finance initiative.

Keywords: United Kingdom; privatization; product quality; labor unions; contracting out; utilities; private finance initiative; renationalization; productivity; public ownership

Chapter.  20171 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Economics

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