Move to markets? An empirical analysis of privatization in developing countries
Aspects of the privatization experience are analysed for a group of 35 low or middle-income developing countries, over the period 1982 through 1999. The theory turns on net political benefits, which in our model are the primary determinant of privatization policies. The decision to privatize is captured here in three related, but distinct, dependent variables: (i) timing; (ii) pace; and (iii) intensity. Our notion of the independent variable, 'net political benefits', is not measured directly, but is instead proxied by an array of macroeconomic, political, and institutional variables. Our key finding is that, though political benefits turn out to explain the timing, pace, and intensity of privatization, the effects are very different in each case. The timing hypothesis is tested using a Cox proportional hazard model, the pace hypothesis is tested using a random effects negative binomial model and the intensity hypothesis is tested using the random effects model. We find that the factors that improve timing delay intensity-early adopters are later implementers. Furthermore, we find that a privatization policy is much more likely to be a crisis-driven, last ditch effort to turn the economy around, rather than a carefully chosen policy with explicit, long-term goals. A related, and very important, finding in our analysis has to do with the 'lock-in' of institutions. The particular form of political institutions, foreign aid regimes, and level of development of property rights systems in the nation have significant conditioning influences on the extent of lock-in. These relationships may be important for informing policy decisions, and for understanding apparent 'failures' of privatization policies. © 2004 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)