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Decision-Related Research on the Organization of Service Delivery Systems in Metropolitan Areas: Solid Waste Management (ICPSR 7487)

Principal Investigator(s): Savas, E. Steven


This study represents one of four research projects on service delivery systems in metropolitan areas, covering fire protection (DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: FIRE PROTECTION [ICPSR 7409]), police protection (DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: POLICE PROTECTION [ICPSR 7427]), public health (DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: PUBLIC HEALTH [ICPSR 7374]), and solid waste management (the present study). All four projects used a common unit of analysis, namely all 200 Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSAs) that, according to the 1970 Census, had a population of less than 1,500,000 and were entirely located within a single state. In each project, a limited amount of information was collected for all 200 SMSAs. More extensive data were gathered within independently drawn samples of these SMSAs, for all local geographical units and each administrative jurisdiction or agency in the service delivery areas. Two standardized systems of geocoding -- the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes and the Office of Revenue Sharing (ORS) codes -- were used, so that data from various sources could be combined. The use of these two coding schemes also allows users to combine data from two or more of the research projects conducted in conjunction with the present one, or to add data from a wide variety of public data files. The present study investigated the delivery of solid waste collection and disposal service, focusing on the differences in efficiency and effectiveness of the public and private sectors. Six major research tasks were undertaken in the first phase of the project: identification of the prevalence of alternative collection arrangement types, analysis of prevailing solid waste collection practices, analysis of cost components of residential refuse collection, econometric analyses of the relative efficiency of the three main arrangement types (municipal collection, local contract service, and franchised service), efficiency of alternative regulatory schemes for residential solid waste collection, and identification of prevailing service arrangements for solid waste disposal. For the purposes of the study, estimates of true cost were made from a variety of data sources. The basic research instrument was a telephone survey conducted in 1,377 cities with populations exceeding 2,500, located in the 200 previously selected SMSAs. This survey obtained information on the means of collection, means of payment, quality of service, and coverage of households. In 102 of these cities, subsequent field visits were used to obtain cost information for municipal collection. In an additional 163 cities, where individuals arranged for their own collection, a telephone survey of households was conducted to identify contracting firms and to ascertain the quality of service. Additional data were collected from 42 franchise operators and from contractors in 242 cities. Legal information was collected on contract and ordinance provisions, regulatory matters, and state law relating to arrangements for the provision of these kinds of services. Information from these sources was combined with data obtained from the International City Management Association and the 1970 Census of Housing and Population. Part 1 contains all the data collected at the city level. Part 2 provides information for the 281 counties in which the 1,377 municipalities were located.

Access Notes

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DS1:  Municipal File - Download All Files (11.034 MB)
DS2:  County File - Download All Files (4.378 MB)

Study Description


Savas, E. Steven. DECISION-RELATED RESEARCH ON THE ORGANIZATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEMS IN METROPOLITAN AREAS: SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT. Conducted by Columbia University, Government Performance Study Group, and International City Management Association, Washington, DC. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1978. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07487.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07487.v1

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  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SSH-02061-A01, 75-01320)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    cities, cost analysis, counties, decision making, econometrics, local government, municipal services, pollution, public health, public sector, private sector, sanitation, solid wastes, Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas, waste disposal, waste management, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1966--1975

Date of Collection:   

  • 1974--1975

Universe:    Waste management services in SMSAs with populations of less than 1,500,000 and located entirely within one state.

Data Type(s):    survey data, and census/enumeration data


Sample:    For a more in-depth analysis, a subsample of 41 SMSAs was created by selecting from the universe all SMSAs with populations exceeding 2,500.

Data Source:

personal interviews, telephone interviews, mailback questionnaires, U.S. Bureau of the Census. CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING, 1970, International City Management Association Master File, Council of State Governments. BOOK OF STATES, 1970-1971, U.S Bureau of the Census. COUNTY AND CITY DATA BOOK, 1972, U.S. Bureau of the Census. GOVERNMENTAL FINANCES IN 1969-1970, U.S. Bureau of the Census. GOVERNMENTAL FINANCES IN 1970-1971, U.S. Bureau of the Census. PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT IN 1969, U.S. Bureau of the Census. PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT IN 1970, U.S. Bureau of the Census. STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES, 1967, U.S. Bureau of the Census. STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES, 1974, published articles and reports (listed in Codebook Appendix, Note 4).

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-03

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