Stay Public or Go Private?: A Comparative Analysis of Water Services between Quito and Guayaquil

Aug 2007
This paper computes several indicators of water coverage, quality, and prices in Ecuador's two largest cities: Quito and Guayaquil- both before and after the privatization of water services in Guayaquil. The type of data sources that are used make it possible to specifically control for income and, thus, to evaluate changes in water provision, particularly among the poor. These indicators provide useful information about how certain water-related services have changed over time and facilitate evaluating the performance of each company. It should be emphasized, however, that such estimates cannot be used to identify the causal effects of the privatization of water provision. In particular, differences in a) before-concession water-coverage trends, c) rural-to-urban migration patterns, and c) other idiosyncratic institutional characteristics between these two cities, suggest that Quito may not be a suitable control group for identifying the casual effects of privatization.