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The Politics of Infrastructure

  • Crain, W Mark
  • Oakley, Lisa K

A number of recent studies attempt to measure the productivity of public capital. Some estimates indicate that government investments are a potential wellspring for economic progress, while others indicate that public infrastructure has a negligible effect on private sector output. This article investigates political institutions and processes underlying the decisions for public infrastructure spending. We apply the framework of strategic models of fiscal policy and develop an empirical model to analyze the substantial differences in public capital across American states. Institutions such as term limits, citizen initiative, and budgeting procedures were significant determinants of state public capital stocks and the flow of new public investments during the 1980s. The results further suggest that political conditions such as legislative stability and voter volatility are systematically related to infrastructure differences across states. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467323
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 38 (1995)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-17

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:38:y:1995:i:1:p:1-17
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. David Aschauer, 1988. "Does public capital crowd out private capital?," Staff Memoranda 88-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1975. "The Independent Judiciary in an Interest-Group Perspective," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 875-901, December.
  3. Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. James Poterba, 1992. "Capital Budgets, Borrowing Rules, and State Capital Spending," NBER Working Papers 4235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alicia H. Munnell, 1992. "Policy Watch: Infrastructure Investment and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 189-198, Fall.
  6. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
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