44th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regions and Fiscal Federalism", 25th - 29th August 2004, Porto, Portugal
Cost efficiency of basic welfare service provision in 353 Finnish municipalities in 1994-2002 is investigated in an ongoing study. The municipal sector has a central role in the Finnish economy as a provider of welfare services. Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), a non-parametric linear programming method is employed, calculating a best practise production frontier for the decision making units, and comparing the various DMUs with this frontier. The inputs consisted of four to ten of the most important services in health, social and educational sector. As the combined output, total real production costs of these services were used. According to the results efficiency differences were considerable between the municipalities, and a small group of a peripheral municipalities scored clearly below the others. Annual changes in cost efficiency were estimated. At the second stage, differences in the DEA efficiency scores were explained by using Tobit panel models. It was found that larger population and peripheral geographic position tend to reduce efficiency of municipal service production, while higher education level of inhabitants increases it.