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On the origins of the concept of natural monopoly: Economies of scale and competition

Manuela Mosca ()

The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2008, vol. 15, issue 2, 317-353

Abstract: The present article contributes to the history of the concept of natural monopoly, focusing on the reconstruction of its origins. The paper considers various facets of natural monopoly: the expression itself; the singling out of the concrete situations to which it is applied; the inquiry into economies of scale; the consideration of their incompatibility with perfect competition; the drawing of the diagram; and the need for government intervention. In this paper each of the above features is separately examined from a historical perspective. Priorities and influences are then traced, and in particular it is found that the pivotal figure in this historical reconstruction is that of Edgeworth. The relation of the concept of natural monopoly with that of competition is also highlighted, as well as its policy implications.

Keywords: Natural monopoly; economies of scale; competition; cost curves; network industries; contestable markets; barriers to entry; market power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008
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DOI: 10.1080/09672560802037623

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The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought is currently edited by José Luís Cardoso

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