Privatization of Public Services: A Systematic Review of Quality Differences between Public and Private Daycare Providers

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While the past decades have witnessed a growing proportion of publicly funded services delivered by private providers, analyses of the consequences for service quality are scarce. Economic theories promote privatization in markets that are competitive and when service quality is relatively easy to define and monitor, however, quasi-markets for public services seldom fulfill these assumptions. This article extends previous research by presenting the findings of an international systematic review of cross-sectoral studies on quality differences between public, non-profit and for-profit providers of daycare services. We find no indication in the literature of higher quality with private providers; if anything, the evaluative evidence suggests that public providers tend to offer slightly higher service quality. We discuss how these insights contribute to theoretical and empirical debates about public and private delivery of services and consider lessons for practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)794-806
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Privatization
  • childcare services
  • public services
  • service quality
  • systematic review

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