Choice and equality: Are vulnerable citizens worse off after liberalization reforms?
In recent decades, we have witnessed a massive restructuring of public service delivery mechanisms, including service liberalization reforms, the pursuit of the choice agenda, and the creation of quasi-markets. A central aim of these reforms was that citizens should receive better value for money through greater competition among service providers. However, it is debated whether all layers of society are equally able to benefit from these developments. We assess the equality in citizens' choice behaviour with regard to liberalized services of general interest across 25 countries of the European Union. Our findings show that the gap between less and better educated service users, in terms of actual switching behaviour, widens once a considerable degree of service liberalization, as evidenced by the number of service providers, has been achieved. However, this has been found only in the mobile telephony sector and not in the less competitive market of fixed telephony services.