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Estimating the social return to transport infrastructure: A price-difference approach applied to a quasi-experiment

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  • Li, Zhigang
  • Chen, Yu

Abstract

Using the price differences between two markets, this study proposes a method for inferring the social return to transport infrastructure (in the vein of Fogel (1964)). We apply this approach to an investment that increased the shipping capacity of a thousand-mile-long railroad in western China. The event was quasi-experimental: before the expansion, the railroad was congested in one direction, but not the other. We find that, after the investment, (1) the between-destination price differences of goods shipped in the congestion direction dropped by about 30% and (2) shipping volume increased by around 40%. In contrast, those of goods in the other direction were not affected. These estimates imply a sizable social return to this particular investment: 10% per year in the most conservative case considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Zhigang & Chen, Yu, 2013. "Estimating the social return to transport infrastructure: A price-difference approach applied to a quasi-experiment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 669-683.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:41:y:2013:i:3:p:669-683
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2012.09.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Han & Li, Zhigang, 2013. "Road investments and inventory reduction: Firm level evidence from China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 43-52.
    2. Xu, Hangtian, 2016. "Domestic railroad infrastructure and exports: Evidence from the Silk Route," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 129-147.
    3. repec:eee:regeco:v:65:y:2017:i:c:p:116-126 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:chieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:203-226 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hangtian Xu, 2014. "Revisit' the Silk Road: A Quasi-Experiment Approach Estimating the Effects of Railway Speed-Up Project on China-Central Asia Exports," ERSA conference papers ersa14p78, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Infrastructure investment; Inter-regional trade; China;

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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