As governments consider ways to provide public services more efficiently, privatization can seem like an attractive option. Yet the subject engenders sharp controversies. In New England, local governments generally have not engaged in as much privatization as those in other parts of the country.
This article examines the evidence on the relative merits of privatizing public services and attempts to determine whether these costs and benefits actually appear to explain local government behavior throughout the United States. The limited scope of privatization by New England local governments defies explanation, suggesting that communities in the region may wish to reexamine their choices of how to provide services, if they have not done so recently.