Low-Level Versus High-Level Equilibrium in Public Utility Service

33 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: June 1, 2011


Heterogeneity of public utility services is common in developing countries. In a "high-level" equilibrium, the quality of utility services is high, consumer willingness to pay for services is high, the utility is well funded and staff well paid in order to induce high quality of performance. In a "low-level" equilibrium the opposite is the case. Which alternative occurs depends on both the quality of utility management, and public perceptions about service quality. If a utility administration has the potential to offer high-quality service, and the public is aware of this, high-quality equilibrium also requires the public?s service payments to be high enough to fund the needed pay incentives for the utility staff. When the public lack knowledge about the utility administration?s quality, the public?s initial beliefs about the utility administration?s quality also will influence their willingness to make adequate service payments for a high-quality equilibrium. This paper shows that, with low confidence, only a low-level equilibrium may exist; while with higher initial confidence, a high-level equilibrium become possible. "Intermediate" (in between the low- and high-level) outcomes also can occur in early periods, with "high-level" outcomes later on.

Keywords: Economic Theory & Research, Political Economy, Town Water Supply and Sanitation, Urban Water Supply and Sanitation, Public Sector Economics

Suggested Citation

Strand, Jon, Low-Level Versus High-Level Equilibrium in Public Utility Service (June 1, 2011). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5723, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1876299

Jon Strand (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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