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The Political Economy of Transportation Investment

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  • Glaeser, Edward L
  • Ponzetto, Giacomo AM

Abstract

Will politics lead to over-building or under-building of transportation projects? In this paper, we develop a model of infrastructure policy in which politicians overdo things that have hidden costs and underperform tasks whose costs voters readily perceive. Consequently, national funding of transportation leads to overspending, since voters more readily perceive the upside of new projects than the future taxes that will be paid for distant highways. Yet when local voters are well-informed, the highly salient nuisances of local construction, including land taking and noise, lead to under-building. This framework explains the decline of urban mega-projects in the US (Altshuler and Luberoff 2003) as the result of increasingly educated and organized urban voters. Our framework also predicts more per capita transportation spending in low-density and less educated areas, which seems to be empirically correct.

Suggested Citation

  • Glaeser, Edward L & Ponzetto, Giacomo AM, 2017. "The Political Economy of Transportation Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 12207, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12207
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Mayneris, 2017. "Effets des infrastructures de transport sur le niveau et la localisation des activités économiques," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2017023, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    elections; imperfect information; infrastructure; Nuisance mitigation; political economy; Transportation investment;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • R53 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Public Facility Location Analysis; Public Investment and Capital Stock

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