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Migration, Congestion Externalities, and the Evaluation of Spatial Investments

  • Dinkelman, Taryn
  • Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam

Evaluations of new infrastructure in developing countries typically focus on direct eff ects, such as the impact of an electrifi fication program on household energy use. But if new infrastructure induces people to move into an area, other local publicly provided goods may become congested, offsetting the benefit of the infrastructure. We use a simple model to show how to measure the net benefit of a place-based program without data on land prices -- an indicator that is commonly used to measure congestion in developed countries but that often cannot be used in poor countries because land markets are missing or land prices are badly measured. Our model shows that congestion externalities are especially large when land markets are missing. To illustrate, we estimate the welfare impact of a recent household electrification program in South Africa. Congestion externalities from migration reduced local welfare gains by half.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9126.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9126
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  1. Lozano-Gracia, Nancy & Young, Cheryl & Lall, Somik V. & Vishwanath, Tara, 2013. "Leveraging land to enable urban transformation : lessons from global experience," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6312, The World Bank.
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