Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer
Chapter 3: The Distribution of Post Offices in Italy and the United States
3. The distribution of post oﬃces in Italy and the United States* Robert Cohen, Luigi Di Paola, Renée Sheehy and Vincenzo Visco Comandini 1. INTRODUCTION The post is considered a basic and fundamental service throughout the industrialized world. The universal service obligation (USO) for postal services always includes a mandate to render eﬀective and regular service to all areas (including rural ones). This in turn inﬂuences the distribution of post oﬃces. This chapter presents the distribution of post oﬃces in the US and Italy. It then compares these distributions with the distribution of pharmacies in the US and banks in Italy. The distribution of the latter two is the result of the operation of economic forces, while the distribution of post oﬃces reﬂects historical factors that may or may not be relevant today, political forces, and social needs. The distribution of post oﬃces would, therefore, be expected to be diﬀerent from those of banks and pharmacies. The chapter ﬁnds that service outlets for pharmacies and banks in the United States and Italy appear to be driven by population density, as expected for market-determined services. However, the distribution of post oﬃces in these countries exhibits a rather diﬀerent pattern. The data show for both countries that rural areas receive a higher quality of retail service than do urban areas, because of the disproportionate number of post oﬃces relative to population. This in turn makes the provision of counter...
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