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Cart or Horse: Transport and Economic Growth

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  • Tim Leunig

Abstract

This paper argues that transport is more cart than horse, in that transport improvements are not the most important driver of economic growth for most countries. Nevertheless there are circumstances in which transport is particularly important. Big transport breakthroughs – such as replacing walking with railways, or creating a highways network for the first time – do have big effects, but these are unlikely to be seen again in developed economies. Instead transport in developed economies is best seen as having a supporting role. If it is neglected, it can constrain growth, as congestion and unreliable transport systems can exact a heavy price. But as long as the transport system is “good enough”, the returns to greater transport investment will be relatively limited.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series International Transport Forum Discussion Papers with number 2011/4.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:oec:itfaab:2011/4-en

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  1. N. F. R. Crafts & C. Knick Harley, 2002. "Precocious British Industrialization: A General Equilibrium Perspective," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 200213, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  2. Tim Leunig, 2010. "Social Savings," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 775-800, December.
  3. Harald Badinger, 2005. "Growth Effects of Economic Integration: Evidence from the EU Member States," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 141(1), pages 50-78, April.
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  7. Tim Leunig, 2005. "Time is money: a re-assessment of the passenger social savings from Victorian British railways," Economic History Working Papers 22551, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  8. Nicholas Crafts & Abay Mulatu, 2004. "How did the location of industry respond to falling transport costs in Britain before World War 1?," Economic History Working Papers 22555, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  9. Martinez-Galarraga, Julio, 2012. "The determinants of industrial location in Spain, 1856–1929," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 255-275.
  10. Haaland, J.I. & Kind, H.J. & knarvik, K.H.M. & Torstensson, J., 1998. "What Determines the Economic Geography of Europe?," Papers 19/98, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
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  13. Sergio Destefanis & Vania Sena, 2005. "Public capital and total factor productivity: New evidence from the Italian regions, 1970-98," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(5), pages 603-617.
  14. Rice, Patricia & Venables, Anthony J., 2004. "Spatial Determinants of Productivity: Analysis for the Regions of Great Britain," CEPR Discussion Papers 4527, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 1997. "Endogenous Growth Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011662, December.
  16. Summerhill, William R., 2005. "Big Social Savings in a Small Laggard Economy: Railroad-Led Growth in Brazil," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 72-102, March.
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