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Too Big, Too Small, or Just Right? Cost-Efficiency of Environmental Inspection Services in Connecticut

Objective: To assess optimal activity size/mix of Connecticut local public health jurisdictions, through estimating economies of scale/scope/specialization for environmental inspections/services.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Connecticut's 74 local health jurisdictions (LHJs) must provide environmental health services, but their efficiency or reasons for wide cost variation are unknown. The public health system is decentralized, with variation in organizational structure/size. We develop/compile a longitudinal dataset covering all 74 LHJs, annually from 2005 to 2012.

Study Design: We estimate a public health services/inspections cost function, where inputs are translated into outputs. We consider separate estimates of economies of scale/scope/specialization for four mandated inspection types.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: We obtain data from Connecticut Department of Public Health databases, reports, and other publicly available sources. There has been no known previous utilization of this combined dataset.

Principal Findings: On average, regional districts, municipal departments, and part-time LHJs are performing fewer than the efficient number of inspections. The full-time municipal departments and regional districts are more efficient but still not at the minimum efficient scale. The regional districts' elasticities of scale are larger, implying they are more efficient than municipal health departments.

Conclusions: Local health jurisdictions may enhance efficiency by increasing inspections and/or sharing some services.

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