Public Choice

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 223–245

The optimal choice of privatizing state-owned enterprises: A political economic model

  • Yan Chen

DOI: 10.1007/BF00136520

Cite this article as:
Chen, Y. Public Choice (1996) 86: 223. doi:10.1007/BF00136520


We study the choices of two types of maximizing Public Servants over how far to carry privatization of industries and in what order to privatize. Two stylizations of the Public Servant's objectives are considered, a Niskanen-style Bureaucrat who maximizes a surplus budget subject to the constraint of staying in office, and a Populist who maximizes popularity/consumer welfare subject to the constraint of a balanced budget. Other things being equal, the Bureaucrat will privatize the sector (firms) with the least market power and the largest subsidy first. The Populist will adopt the same policy, if the marginal costs of products in the private sectors are not too high with respect to the marginal utilities. If the marginal costs are too high, however, the Populist will privatize the sector with the largest market power first. We also show that privatization is easier and faster in less democratic societies.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsThe University of MichiganAnn ArborU.S.A.

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