Bank efficiency estimates often serve as a proxy of managerial skill since they quantify sub-optimal production choices. But such deviations can also be due to omitted systematic differences among banks. In this study, we examine the effects of heterogeneity on bank efficiency scores. We compare different specifications of a stochastic cost and alternative profit frontier model with a baseline specification. After conducting a specification test, we discuss heterogeneity effects on efficiency levels, ranks and the tails of the efficiency distribution. We find that heterogeneity controls influence both banks’ optimal costs and profits and their ability to be efficient. Differences in efficiency scores are important for more than only methodological reasons. First, different ways of accounting for heterogeneity result in estimates of foregone profits and additional costs that are significantly different from what we infer from our general specification. Second, banks are significantly re-ranked when their efficiency is estimated with a specification other than the preferred, general specification. Third, the general specification gives the most reliable estimates of the probability of distress, although differences to the other specifications are low.
- Bank production