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Migration, congestion externalities, and the evaluation of spatial investments

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  • Dinkelman, Taryn
  • Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam

Abstract

The direct benefits of infrastructure in developing countries can be large, but if new infrastructure induces in-migration, congestion of other local publicly provided goods may offset the direct benefits. Using the example of rural household electrification in South Africa, we demonstrate the importance of accounting for migration when evaluating welfare gains of spatial programs. We also provide a practical approach to computing welfare gains that does not rely on land prices. We develop a location choice model that incorporates missing land markets and allows for congestion in local land. Using this model, we construct welfare bounds as a function of the income and population effects of the new electricity infrastructure. A novel prediction from the model is that migration elasticities and congestion effects are especially large when land markets are missing. We empirically estimate these welfare bounds for rural electrification in South Africa, and show that congestion externalities from program-induced migration reduced local welfare gains by about 40%.

Suggested Citation

  • Dinkelman, Taryn & Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, 2015. "Migration, congestion externalities, and the evaluation of spatial investments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 189-202.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:114:y:2015:i:c:p:189-202
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.12.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Morales, Juan S., 2018. "The impact of internal displacement on destination communities: Evidence from the Colombian conflict," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 132-150.
    2. Alexander D. Rothenberg & Samuel Bazzi & Shanthi Nataraj & Amalavoyal V. Chari, 2017. "When Regional Policies Fail An Evaluation of Indonesia's Integrated Economic Development Zones," Working Papers WR-1183, RAND Corporation.
    3. Desmet, Klaus & Rappaport, Jordan, 2017. "The settlement of the United States, 1800–2000: The long transition towards Gibrat’s law," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 50-68.
    4. repec:esx:essedp:729 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:taf:specan:v:13:y:2018:i:1:p:5-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Breinlich, Holger & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2014. "Regional Growth and Regional Decline," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 683-779 Elsevier.
    7. Lewis, Joshua & Severnini, Edson R., 2017. "Short- and Long-Run Impacts of Rural Electrification: Evidence from the Historical Rollout of the U.S. Power Grid," IZA Discussion Papers 11243, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rural infrastructure; Migration; Congestion; Welfare; Program evaluation; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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