Journal Article

Private Markets, Contracts, and Government Provision: What Explains the Organization of Local Waste and Recycling Markets?

May 15, 2005 | Margaret A. Walls, Molly K. Macauley, Soren T. Anderson


We study determinants of market organization of local public services by an empiricalexamination of one of the most visible municipal services, residential waste management. Usinga multinomial logit model and data for 1,000 U.S. communities, we explore the effect of politicalinfluence, voter ideology, environmental constraints, production costs (i.e., “economies ofdensity”), and contracting transaction costs on a community’s choice of market arrangement forwaste collection and recycling. We find that cost factors are a significant determinant of servicedelivery method. In contrast, few of the political variables are statistically significant. Theseresults hold for our models of both waste and recycling, lending further evidence to theconclusion that local governments emphasize costs when choosing between private and publicprovision.