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Roads to Prosperity or Bridges to Nowhere? Theory and Evidence on the Impact of Public Infrastructure Investment

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  • Sylvain Leduc
  • Daniel Wilson

Abstract

We examine the dynamic macroeconomic effects of public infrastructure investment both theoretically and empirically, using a novel data set we compiled on various highway spending measures. Relying on the institutional design of federal grant distributions among states, we construct a measure of government highway spending shocks that captures revisions in expectations about future government investment. We find that shocks to federal highway funding has a positive effect on local GDP both on impact and after 6 to 8 years, with the impact effect coming from shocks during (local) recessions. The direct channel appears to stem from federal grants leading to increased state government spending, and we provide strong evidence of this "flypaper effect."
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  • Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2013. "Roads to Prosperity or Bridges to Nowhere? Theory and Evidence on the Impact of Public Infrastructure Investment," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 89-142.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:macann:doi:10.1086/669173
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    Cited by:

    1. Alfredo Marvão Pereira & Rui Manuel Pereira, 2017. "Why Virtuous Supply-Side Effects and Irrelevant Keynesian Effects are not Foregone Conclusions: What we Learn from an Industry-Level Analysis of Infrastructure Investments in Portugal," GEE Papers 0076, Gabinete de Estratégia e Estudos, Ministério da Economia, revised Aug 2017.
    2. Hafedh Bouakez & Michel Guillard & Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup, 2017. "Public Investment, Time to Build, and the Zero Lower Bound," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 23, pages 60-79, January.
    3. Ramey, V.A., 2016. "Macroeconomic Shocks and Their Propagation," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    4. repec:fip:fedfsp:y:2012:i:oct15 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Mamedov, Arseny & Hudko, Hudko & Belev, Sergei & Moguchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 2016. "Comparative Analysis of the Effectiveness of Individual Instruments of State Investment Policy," Working Papers 3052, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
    6. repec:eee:jmacro:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:100-117 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Aart Kraay, 2014. "Government Spending Multipliers in Developing Countries: Evidence from Lending by Official Creditors," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 170-208, October.
    8. Francesca G Caselli & Agustin Roitman, 2016. "Non-Linear Exchange Rate Pass-Through in Emerging Markets," IMF Working Papers 16/1, International Monetary Fund.
    9. John C. Williams, 2012. "The economy, fiscal policy, and monetary policy," Speech 111, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    10. Hafedh Bouakez & Michel Guillard & Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup, 2016. "The Optimal Composition of Public Spending in a Deep Recession," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 16.09, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    11. Riccardo Crescenzi & Marco Di Cataldo & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 2016. "Government Quality And The Economic Returns Of Transport Infrastructure Investment In European Regions," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 555-582, September.
    12. repec:sbe:breart:v:32:y:2012:i:2:a:9535 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Ellahie, Atif & Ricco, Giovanni, 2017. "Government purchases reloaded: Informational insufficiency and heterogeneity in fiscal VARs," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 13-27.
    14. Giovanni Ganelli & Juha Tervala, 2016. "The Welfare Multiplier of Public Infrastructure Investment," IMF Working Papers 16/40, International Monetary Fund.
    15. repec:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:2:p:253-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Daniel J. Wilson, 2012. "Fiscal Spending Jobs Multipliers: Evidence from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 251-282, August.
    17. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Dmitri Koustas, 2013. "Amerisclerosis? The Puzzle of Rising U.S. Unemployment Persistence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(2 (Fall)), pages 193-260.
    18. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel J. Wilson, 2012. "Should transportation spending be included in a stimulus program? a review of the literature," Working Paper Series 2012-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    19. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2017. "Are State Governments Roadblocks to Federal Stimulus? Evidence on the Flypaper Effect of Highway Grants in the 2009 Recovery Act," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 253-292, May.
    20. Kuralbayeva, Karlygash, 2013. "Optimal fiscal policy and different degrees of access to international capital markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 336-352.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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