NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Ownership and the Price of Residential Electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935-1940

Carl T. Kitchens, Taylor Jaworski

NBER Working Paper No. 22254
Issued in May 2016
NBER Program(s):   DAE

In this paper, we quantify the difference between public and private prices of residential electricity immediately before and after major federal reforms in the 1930s and 1940s. Previous research found that public prices were lower in a sample of large, urban markets. Based on new data covering over 15,000 markets and nearly all electricity generated for residential consumption, we find the difference between public and private prices was small in 1935 and negligible in 1940 for typical levels of monthly consumption. These findings are consistent with a market for ownership that helped to discipline electricity prices during this period. That is, private rents were mitigated by the threat that municipalities would use public ownership to respond to constituent complaints and public rents were limited by electoral competition and the growth of private provision.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22254

Published: Carl T. Kitchens & Taylor Jaworski, 2016. "Ownership and the price of residential electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935–1940," Explorations in Economic History, . citation courtesy of

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