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A Model of State Infrastructure with Decentralized Public Agents: Theory and Evidence


  • Raul Barreto

    () (School of Economics, University of Adelaide, Australia)


The imperative of the state, irrespective of its organization, is to provide law and order, contract enforcement, and property rights. The government provides the foundation for markets to function and for society to prosper. A common thread in any government is that, for a given society, the state holds a monopoly over most of its services. Although the state may choose not to exploit this market power, the public agents that represent the state within the aggregate production process, necessarily will. The following paper presents a macroeconomic framework that explicitly considers the local monopoly power of public agents. In the context of a representative agent model, I consider a private sector production function versus a public sector production function in which both sectors compete over labor and capital. Estimates are made of the productivity of private versus public capital, of private versus public labor, and of public infrastructure within the private sector production function. The theoretical implications of decentralized public agents are then analyzed within an endogenous growth framework. The results suggest that the elasticity of public infrastructure is significantly lower than previous estimates. They also confirm that the elasticity of private infrastructure is country specific. The theoretical results suggest that decentralization of public agents which, intuitively is greater in less developed countries than industrialized ones, is associated with steeper growth paths that lead to lower steady state capital labor ratios and per capita consumption levels. This implies that shocks to less developed countries have more dramatic effects but shorter life spans than shocks to industrialized countries, or more simply, business cycles in developing countries are shorter but more volatile. “You can make of human beings what you want. The way he is governed commends Man to good, or to evil.” - J.F. von Pfeiffer (1715-1787) “Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.” - Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)

Suggested Citation

  • Raul Barreto, 2003. "A Model of State Infrastructure with Decentralized Public Agents: Theory and Evidence," Centre for International Economic Studies Working Papers 2003-07, University of Adelaide, Centre for International Economic Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:adl:cieswp:2003-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alicia H. Munnell, 1990. "How does public infrastructure affect regional economic performance?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 34, pages 69-112.
    2. Futagami, Koichi & Morita, Yuichi & Shibata, Akihisa, 1993. " Dynamic Analysis of an Endogenous Growth Model with Public Capital," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(4), pages 607-625, December.
    3. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Amy Schwartz, 1995. "Spatial productivity spillovers from public infrastructure: Evidence from state highways," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(3), pages 459-468, October.
    4. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Barreto, Raul A., 2000. "Endogenous corruption in a neoclassical growth model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 35-60, January.
    6. Dasgupta, Dipankar, 1999. "Growth versus welfare in a model of nonrival infrastructure," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 359-385, April.
    7. Garcia-Mila, T. & Mcguire, T.J., 1988. "The Contribution Of Publicity Provided Inputs To The State'S Economies," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 115-89, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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    Cited by:

    1. Dzhumashev, Ratbek, 2008. "Corruption and regulatory burden," MPRA Paper 2081, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Decentralization; Infrastructure; Aggregate productivity; Growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models


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