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Public Capital and Economic Performance: Evidence from Italy

  • Federico Bonaglia
  • Eliana La Ferrara
  • Massimiliano Marcellino

This paper addresses the issue of whether and by how much public capital can enhance economic performance. We apply different methodologies to Italian regional data for the period 1970-1994. The results are presented for Italy as a whole and for different macroregions, and for individual categories of public capital. For the Center and the South, the methodologies employed indicate a positive contribution of infrastructure investment to TFP growth, output, and cost reduction. However, the magnitude of the cost reducing effect does not seem large enough to outweigh the social user cost of public capital. Also, we get mixed results on which types of infrastructure are most effective. Overall, investment in transportation appears to be the most productive: railways in the North and roads in the Center and South are the categories that mostly contributed to TFP growth.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 163.

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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:163
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  1. L. Picci, 1995. "Productivity and Infrastructure in the Italian Regions," Working Papers 230, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  2. Evans, Paul & Karras, Georgios, 1994. "Are Government Activities Productive? Evidence from a Panel of U.S. States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 1-11, February.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages S103-26, October.
  4. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Alicia H. Munnell, 1990. "Why has productivity growth declined? Productivity and public investment," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 3-22.
  6. L. Picci, 1995. "Il 'Capitale mancante' nel Mezzogiorno italiano," Working Papers 212, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  7. M. A. King, 1972. "Corporate Taxation and Dividend Behaviour: a further Comment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 231-234.
  8. Alfredo Del Monte & Antonio Acconcia, 2000. "Regional Development and Public Spending: The Case of Italy," STUDI ECONOMICI, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2000(72).
  9. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, 1994. "Public-Sector Capital and the Productivity Puzzle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 12-21, February.
  10. Catherine J. Morrison & Amy Ellen Schwartz, 1992. "State Infrastructure and Productive Performance," NBER Working Papers 3981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Eliana La Ferrara & Massimiliano Marcellino, . "TFP, Costs, and Public Infrastructure: An Equivocal Relationship," Working Papers 176, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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