This paper uses data collected for the determination of standard expenditure needs indicators recently published in opencivitas.it to shed light on some relevant profiles of the process of inter-municipal association under way in Italy. The paper shows firstly the distribution of the various forms of municipal association across regional territories and secondly whether cost savings actually result from the econometric estimation of standard expenditure needs indicators in the case that municipal associations are adopted in the public services provision. In particular, it is pointed out that in municipal services characterized by significant economies of scale the evaluation of the efficiency gains resulting from municipal associations could be distorted if associations are compared with single municipalities with the same features (especially in terms of population size). Instead, these efficiency gains, if any, would be correctly measured if the municipalities participating to an association (and not the association itself) were directly compared with the municipalities not involved in any association forms.
Keywords: Forms of municipal association, standard expenditure needs indicators, unions of municipalities, efficiency
Jel Code: H70, H7