Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Human and physical infrastructure : public investment and pricing policies in developing countries


Author Info

  • Jimenez, Emmanuel
  • DEC
Registered author(s):


    Almost by definition, the basis for development is infrastructure - whether services for human infrastructure (health, education, nutrition) or physical infrastructure (transport, energy, water). Although the infrastructure sectors are diverse, what they have in common is that public policy has had a great deal to do with how these services are provided and financed in almost all countries. The author reviews the recent literature on two key aspects of that involvement: investment and pricing. While the quality of the econometric evidence varies, recent literature reinforces the view that human and physical infrastructure are critical for economic growth and the reduction of poverty. And the state is recognized as playing a key role in ensuring the efficient, equitable allocation of resources for infrastructure. Despite many sound theoretical reasons for such public involvement, however, recent studies have shown that it leaves much to be desired in efficiency and equity. One symptom is underinvestment in key subsectors that have high economic returns and that help the poor the most, such as primary education and rural health clinics, in relation to more expensive interventions, such as tertiary education and urban hospitals. Another common malaise is the poor use of scarce resources, leading to low quality (students learning little) and reliability (irregular power and water flows), poor maintenance (dilapilated roads), and inappropriate input use (too many school adminstrators or health workers and not enough books or drugs in producing education health outcomes). Just as market failures necessitate government intervention in the infrastructure sectors, so government failures should be considered in deciding the depth and extent of that intervention. The literature has made some advances in diagnosing these problems in poor countries and proposing solutions. But information gaps remain, particularly in developing robust methodologies for: 1) making intersectoral comparisons across the wide range of infrastructure services; 2) crafting more diverse policies about the public-private balance in infrastructure investment, depending on the nature of"public goods"characteristics for various types of infrastructure services, or even across activities for the same service (for example, power transmission versus distribution); and 3) taking issues of political economy into account, such as the vested interests of those with large financial interests in infrastructure. The author also highlights public pricing as a policy initiative that has recently gotten much attention.After briefly reviewing the basic concepts of pricing, he focuses on the literature about pricing reform. Most commonly, the public sector is the main provider of infrastructure services, usually free or at subsidized prices. But the recent literature has aired a rethinking of the balance between public and private financing of infrastructure. The debate in this area is often heated. Health and education are traditionally provided free and some recent literature argues for positive prices, at least for higher tiers of service. The principle of public pricing has been more widely accepted in transport, energy, and to a lesser extent water, but often the levels are too low and do not provide the appropriate incentives for efficient and equitable use.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1281.

    as in new window
    Date of creation: 30 Apr 1994
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1281

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
    Phone: (202) 477-1234
    Web page:
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords: Environmental Economics&Policies; Banks&Banking Reform; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Economic Theory&Research;


    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Lavy, Victor & Quigley, John M., 1991. "Willingness to Pay For the Quality and Intensity of Medical Care: Evidence from Low Income Households in Ghana," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy qt8237c6g3, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
    2. Randell P. Ellis & Germano M. Mwabu, 2004. "The Demand for Outpatient Medical Care in Rural Kenya," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series, Boston University - Department of Economics dp-140, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Moock, Peter R. & Leslie, Joanne, 1986. "Childhood malnutrition and schooling in the Terai region of Nepal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 33-52.
    4. Srinivasan, T.N. & Raut, L.K., 1992. "Theories of Long-Run Growth: Old and New," Papers, Yale - Economic Growth Center 676, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    5. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Paqueo, Vicente & de Vera, Ma. Lourdes, 1988. "Does local financing make primary schools more efficient : the Philippine case," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 69, The World Bank.
    6. Weale, Martin, 1992. "Education, externalities, fertility, and economic growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1039, The World Bank.
    7. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Swaroop, Vinaya & Heng-fu, Zou, 1996. "The composition of public expenditure and economic growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 313-344, April.
    9. Hammer, Jeffrey S., 1993. "Prices and protocols in public health care," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1131, The World Bank.
    10. Heller, Peter S., 1982. "A model of the demand for medical and health services in Peninsular Malaysia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 267-284, January.
    11. Chhibber, Ajay & Dailami, Mansoor, 1990. "Fiscal policy and private investment in developing countries : recent evidence on key selected issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 559, The World Bank.
    12. Antle, John M, 1983. "Infrastructure and Aggregate Agricultural Productivity: International Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(3), pages 609-19, April.
    13. Lewis, Maureen A, 1993. "User Fees in Public Hospitals: Comparison of Three Country Case Studies," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(3), pages 513-32, April.
    14. Heggie, Ian G. & Fon, Vincy, 1991. "Optimal user charges and cost recovery for roads in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 780, The World Bank.
    15. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Lockheed, Marlaine E & Paqueo, Vicente, 1991. "The Relative Efficiency of Private and Public Schools in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 6(2), pages 205-18, July.
    16. Kaufman, Daniel & Yan Wang, 1992. "How macroeconomic policies affect project performance in the social sectors," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 939, The World Bank.
    17. Eskeland, Gunnar S & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1992. "Policy Instruments for Pollution Control in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 7(2), pages 145-69, July.
    18. Lewis, Maureen A. & Parker, Clover, 1991. "Policy and implementation of user fees in Jamaican public hospitals," Health Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 57-85, June.
    19. Lockheed, Marlaine E & Jamison, Dean T & Lau, Lawrence J, 1987. "Farmer Education and Farm Efficiency: Reply," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 643-44, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Ahuja, Vinod & Filmer, Deon, 1995. "Educational attainments in developing countries : new estimates and projections disaggregated by gender," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1489, The World Bank.
    2. Lofgren, Hans & Thurlow, James & Robinson, Sherman, 2004. "Prospects for growth and poverty reduction i n Zambia, 2001-2015," DSGD discussion papers, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 11, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. World Bank, 2004. "Zambia - Country Economic Memorandum : Policies for Growth and Diversification, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15666, The World Bank.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1281. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.