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The Productivity of Public Capital: Evidence from the 1994 Electoral Reform of Japan

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  • Daiji Kawaguchi
  • Fumio Ohtake
  • Keiko Tamada

Abstract

This paper attempts to estimate the causal effect of public capital stock on production using Japanese prefectural data. We first articulate the difficulty of consistently estimating the regional-level production function with public capital due to the endogeneity of the public capital stock amount. As the central government allocates most of the public capital across regions in Japan, the stock amount of public capital could be endogenous because it could be allocated to either booming regions to support private activity or to stagnating regions to help them become more productive. The endogeneity of public capital is more serious when local governments make decisions regarding public capital investments, as in the US, because such decisions are directly affected by local governments' budgetary constraints. We need an exogenous variation of public capital investment across regions in order to estimate the causal effect of public capital on production. Japan's electoral reform in 1994 offers an exogenous variation of this sort. The reform drastically changed the distribution of political representation in the Lower House across regions, and it accordingly changed the allocation of public capital across regions as well. The productivity of public capital based on this natural experimental identification strategy indicates higher productivity due to public capital than indicated by the OLS estimation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University in its series ISER Discussion Paper with number 0627.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0627

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  1. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Sectoral Solow Residuals," NBER Working Papers 5286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Mary E. Lovely, 1995. "Scale Economies, Returns to Variety, and the Productivity of Public Infrastructure," NBER Working Papers 5295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Meyer, Steven A & Naka, Shigeto, 1998. " Legislative Influences in Japanese Budgetary Politics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3-4), pages 267-88, March.
  4. Garcia-Mila, Teresa & McGuire, Therese J & Porter, Robert H, 1996. "The Effect of Public Capital in State-Level Production Functions Reconsidered," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 177-80, February.
  5. Chandra, Amitabh & Thompson, Eric, 2000. "Does public infrastructure affect economic activity?: Evidence from the rural interstate highway system," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 457-490, July.
  6. Norihiko Yamano & Toru Ohkawara, 2000. "The Regional Allocation of Public Investment: Efficiency or Equity?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 205-229.
  7. Garcia-Mila, Teresa & McGuire, Therese J., 1992. "The contribution of publicly provided inputs to states' economies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 229-241, June.
  8. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Ai, Chunrong & Cassou, Steven P., 1997. "On public capital analysis with state data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 209-212, December.
  10. Evans, Paul & Karras, Georgios, 1994. "Are Government Activities Productive? Evidence from a Panel of U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 1-11, February.
  11. Steven Meyer & Shigeto Naka, 1998. "Legislative influences in Japanese budgetary politics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3), pages 267-288, March.
  12. Alicia H. Munnell, 1990. "Why has productivity growth declined? Productivity and public investment," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 3-22.
  13. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, 1994. "Public-Sector Capital and the Productivity Puzzle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 12-21, February.
  14. Ishi, Hiromitsu, 1996. "Budgets and the Budgetary Process in Japan," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 37(1), pages 1-19, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Pedro R.D. Bom & Jenny E. Ligthart, 2009. "How Productive is Public Capital? A Meta-Regression Analysis," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0912, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Valter Di Giacinto & Giacinto Micucci & Pasqualino Montanaro, 2012. "The Macroeconomic Impact of Infrastructures: A Literature Review and Empirical Analysis on the Case of Italy," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 1, March.

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