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Research article

Journal of Productivity Analysis Authors: Maria Teresa Balaguer-Coll, Diego Prior and Emili Tortosa-Ausina

Title: Output complexity, environmental conditions, and the efficiency of municipalities

Source: Journal of Productivity Analysis

Abstract: Over the last few years, many studies have analyzed the efficiency of local governments in different countries. An accurate definition of their output bundles— i.e., the services and facilities they provide to their constituencies— is essential to this research. However, several difficulties emerge in this task. First, since in most cases the law only establishes the minimum amount of services and facilities to provide, it may well be the case that some municipalities go beyond the legal minimum and, consequently, might have an uncertain effect on efficiency when compared to other municipalities which stick to the legal minimum. Second, municipalities face very different environmental conditions, which raises some doubts about the plausibility of an unconditional analysis. This study tackles these problems by proposing an analysis in which the efficiency of municipalities is evaluated after splitting them into clusters according to various criteria (output mix, environmental conditions, level of powers). We perform our estimations using order-m frontiers, given their robustness to outliers and immunity to the curse of dimensionality. We provide an application to Spanish municipalities, and results show that both output mix and, more especially, environmental conditions, should be controlled for, since efficiency differences between municipalities in different groups are notable.

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Recommended citation:

Balaguer-Coll, M.T., D. Prior and E. Tortosa-Ausina (2013): "Output complexity, environmental conditions, and the efficiency of municipalities", Journal of Productivity Analysis, 39(3), June, pp. 303-324.

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