Privatize This?
Assessing the Opportunities and Costs of Privatization
by Richard A. McGowan
March 2011, 206pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37586-6
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37587-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

From 2000 to 2008, the Bush Administration championed privatization like no other before it, awarding hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts to outsource services and pushing for greater-than-ever privatizing of our schools, the retirement system, even the war in Iraq. But privatization continues to be a controversial concept, and is as synonymous with waste, cronyism, and fraud as it is with efficiency and competition.

This book offers an expert examination of the ideology and motives behind the privatization or the nationalization of an industry, based on real case studies.

Is it always more effective and less expensive to use taxpayer dollars to engage private companies rather than have the government run enterprises itself? Do consumers always benefit from the privatization of services? What happens when privatization stops being an abstract, theoretical debate and is actually put to the test in the real world? Privatize This? Assessing the Opportunities and Costs of Privatization is the place to find out.

Privatize This? provides a clear, easy-to-apply model for evaluating the pros and cons of the privatization process and then puts the model to work in examining nine real-world case studies—ranging from Spain’s privatization of its cigarette industry to Pennsylvania’s “state store system” for selling liquor. Throughout, the book focuses on the central issues of privatization—profit versus public good, protection from fraud and waste—while also showing how the recent economic upheaval has changed public opinion and public policy on privatization.


  • Nine case studies of privatization in a variety of contexts: cigarette and alcohol sales, oil production, port facilities, public transportation, prison management, and lotteries
  • Charts and figures for production and costs throughout each case study
  • A bibliography for each case study, as well as a comprehensive bibliography for the entire book
  • A comprehensive index of all topics, firms, policymakers, and important terminology
Richard A. McGowan is professor of economics at Boston College, Boston, MA. He has published six books on the interactions of business and government as well as winning numerous teaching awards at Boston College.
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