IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v89y1999i3p619-638.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Roads to Prosperity? Assessing the Link between Public Capital and Productivity

Author

Listed:
  • John G. Fernald

Abstract

Does the positive correlation between infrastructure and productivity reflect causation? If so, in which direction? The author finds that, when growth in roads (the largest component of infrastructure) changes, productivity growth changes disproportionately in U.S. industries with more vehicles. That vehicle-intensive industries benefit more from road-building suggests that roads are productive. At the margin, however, road investments do not appear unusually productive. Intuitively, the interstate system was highly productive, but a second one would not be. Road-building thus explains much of the productivity slowdown through a one-time, unrepeatable productivity boost in the 1950s and 1960s.

Suggested Citation

  • John G. Fernald, 1999. "Roads to Prosperity? Assessing the Link between Public Capital and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 619-638, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:89:y:1999:i:3:p:619-638
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.89.3.619
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.89.3.619
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G., 1995. "Are apparent productive spillovers a figment of specification error?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 165-188, August.
    2. Basu, Susanto & Fernald, John G, 1997. "Returns to Scale in U.S. Production: Estimates and Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 249-283, April.
    3. Berndt, Ernst R & Hansson, Bengt, 1992. " Measuring the Contribution of Public Infrastructure Capital in Sweden," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(0), pages 151-168, Supplemen.
    4. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
    5. Alicia H. Munnell, 1990. "How does public infrastructure affect regional economic performance?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 34, pages 69-112.
    6. 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.
    7. Kocherlakota, Narayana R & Yi, Kei-Mu, 1996. "A Simple Time Series Test of Endogenous vs. Exogenous Growth Models: An Application to the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 126-134, February.
    8. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "The Productivity Slowdown: The Culprit at Last? Follow-Up on Hulten and Wolff," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1239-1252, December.
    9. Nadiri, M Ishaq & Mamuneas, Theofanis P, 1994. "The Effects of Public Infrastructure and R&D Capital on the Cost Structure and Performance of U.S. Manufacturing Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 22-37, February.
    10. Morrison, Catherine J & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1996. "State Infrastructure and Productive Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1095-1111, December.
    11. Berndt, Ernst & Hansson, Bengt, 1992. "Measuring the Contribution of Capital in Sweden," Working Paper Series 365, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    12. Alicia H. Munnell, 1991. "Is there a shortfall in public capital investment? An overview," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 23-35.
    13. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, 1993. "State-specific estimates of state and local government capital," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 185-209, April.
    14. Robert Ford & Pierre Poret, 1991. "Infrastructure and Private-Sector Productivity," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 91, OECD Publishing.
    15. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Productivity, R&D, and the Data Constraint," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 347-374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Susanto Basu & Miles S. Kimball, 1997. "Cyclical Productivity with Unobserved Input Variation," NBER Working Papers 5915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Gramlich, Edward M, 1994. "Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1176-1196, September.
    18. David Alan Aschauer, 1990. "Why is infrastructure important?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 34, pages 21-68.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Alfredo M. Pereira & Jorge M. Andraz, 2013. "On The Economic Effects Of Public Infrastructure Investment: A Survey Of The International Evidence," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 1-37, December.
    2. Wei Zou & Fen Zhang & Ziyin Zhuang & Hairong Song, 2008. "Transport Infrastructure, Growth, and Poverty Alleviation: Empirical Analysis of China," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 9(2), pages 345-371, November.
    3. Mamatzakis, E. C., 2003. "Public infrastructure and productivity growth in Greek agriculture," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 29(2), pages 169-180, October.
    4. Andreas Stephan, 2003. "Assessing the contribution of public capital to private production: Evidence from the German manufacturing sector," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 399-417.
    5. Arestoff, Florence & Hurlin, Christophe, 2006. "Estimates of government net capital stocks for 26 developing countries, 1970-2002," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3858, The World Bank.
    6. Joeé Emilio Boscá & Francisco Javier Escribá & María José Murgui, 2002. "The Effect of Public Infrastructure on the Private Productive Sector of Spanish Regions," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 301-326, May.
    7. Andreas Kopp, 2005. "Aggregate Productivity Effects of Road Investment - A Reassessment for Western Europe," ERSA conference papers ersa05p631, European Regional Science Association.
    8. Roberto Ezcurra & Carlos Gil & Pedro Pascual & Manuel Rapún, 2005. "Public capital, regional productivity and spatial spillovers," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 39(3), pages 471-494, September.
    9. Silvia Bertarelli, 2006. "Public capital and growth," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 361-398.
    10. Onofri, Alejandro & Fulginiti, Lilyan E., 1999. "Public Capital, R&D, Agricultural Production And Endogenous Growth," 1999 Annual meeting, August 8-11, Nashville, TN 21542, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    11. Pereira, Alfredo M. & de Frutos, Rafael Flores, 1999. "Public Capital Accumulation and Private Sector Performance," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 300-322, September.
    12. Shi, Hao & Huang, Shaoqing, 2014. "How Much Infrastructure Is Too Much? A New Approach and Evidence from China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 272-286.
    13. Onofri, Alejandro & Fulginiti, Lilyan E., 2001. "Public Inputs and Endogenous Growth in the Agricultural Sector: a Dynamic Dual Approach," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20438, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    14. Francisco Rodríguez, 2006. "Have Collapses in Infrastructure Spending Led to Cross-Country Divergence in per Capita GDP?," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-013, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    15. Alejandro Onofri & Lilyan E. Fulginiti, 2005. "Public Inputs and Productivty in the Agricultural Sector: A Dynamic Dual Approach," Others 0502011, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Haughwout, Andrew F., 1998. "Aggregate Production Functions, Interregional Equilibrium, and the Measurement of Infrastructure Productivity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 216-227, September.
    17. Delgado Rodriguez, Maria Jesus & Alvarez Ayuso, Inmaculada, 2000. "Public Productive Infrastructure And Economic Growth," ERSA conference papers ersa00p23, European Regional Science Association.
    18. Haughwout, Andrew F., 2002. "Public infrastructure investments, productivity and welfare in fixed geographic areas," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 405-428, March.
    19. Zhenhua Chen & Kingsley E. Haynes, 2015. "Public surface transportation and regional output: A spatial panel approach," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(4), pages 727-751, November.
    20. Fu, Feng-Cheng & Vijverberg, Chu-Ping C. & Vijverberg, Wim P., 2004. "Public Infrastructure as a Determinant of Intertemporal and Interregional Productive Performance in China," IZA Discussion Papers 1019, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • R53 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Public Facility Location Analysis; Public Investment and Capital Stock
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:89:y:1999:i:3:p:619-638. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.