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Scale economies, returns to variety, and the productivity of public infrastructure

  • Holtz-Eakin, Douglas
  • Lovely, Mary E.

We examine the productivity of public infrastructure in a general equilibrium context. In our model, infrastructure lowers costs in a manufacturing sector characterized by both firm-level returns to scale and industry-level external returns to variety. Infrastructure alters factor prices, intermediate prices and the allocation of factors across sectors. The effect on manufacturing or aggregate output, however, is indeterminate. In particular, our theory suggests that the degree of monopoly power influences public capital's productivity effect. We test the model using state-level panel data. We confirm the absence of direct effects on output, but find suggestive evidence of a positive impact of public capital on manufacturing variety as measured by the number of manufacturing establishments. These results indicate the need for future research on potentially important indirect channels by which public capital affects manufacturing productivity.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 26 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 105-123

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Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:26:y:1996:i:2:p:105-123
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  1. M. Ishaq Nadiri & Theofanis P. Mamuneas, 1991. "The Effects of Public Infrastructure and R&D Capital on the Cost Structure and Performance of U.S. Manufacturing Industries," NBER Working Papers 3887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Markusen, James R, 1989. "Trade in Producer Services and in Other Specialized Intermediate Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 85-95, March.
  3. Evans, Paul & Karras, Georgios, 1994. "Are Government Activities Productive? Evidence from a Panel of U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 1-11, February.
  4. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Mary E. Lovely, 1994. "Technological Linkages, Market Structure, and Optimum Production Policies," NBER Working Papers 4779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert Dekle & Jonathan Eaton, 1994. "Agglomeration and the Price of Land: Evidence from the Prefectures," NBER Working Papers 4781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Teresa Garcia-MilĂ  & Therese J. McGuire & Robert H. Porter, 1993. "The effect of public capital in state-level production functions reconsidered," Economics Working Papers 36, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Garcia-Mila, Teresa & McGuire, Therese J., 1992. "The contribution of publicly provided inputs to states' economies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 229-241, June.
  8. 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.
  9. Alicia H. Munnell & Leah M. Cook, 1990. "How does public infrastructure affect regional economic performance?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 11-33.
  10. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1995. "Infrastructure in a structural model of economic growth," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 131-151, April.
  11. 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.
  12. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  14. J. Vernon Henderson, 1994. "Externalities and Industrial Development," NBER Working Papers 4730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. James R. Markusen, 1990. "First Mover Advantages, Blockaded Entry, And the Economics of Uneven Development," NBER Working Papers 3284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Ethier, Wilfred, 1979. "Internationally decreasing costs and world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, February.
  17. Alicia H. Munnell, 1990. "Why has productivity growth declined? Productivity and public investment," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 3-22.
  18. 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.
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