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Seeking a Premier EconomyThe Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000$
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David Card, Richard Blundell, and Richard B. Freeman

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226092843

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226092904.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Seeking a Premier-League Economy

Seeking a Premier-League Economy

The Role of Privatization

(p.63) 2 Seeking a Premier-League Economy
Seeking a Premier Economy
Richard Green, Jonathan Haskel
University of Chicago Press

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

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