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TFP, Costs, and Public Infrastructure: An Equivocal Relationship

  • Eliana La Ferrara
  • Massimiliano Marcellino

This paper studies the impact of public infrastructure on economic perfor-mance. We employ three different methodologies to estimate the returns to public investment. First, we relate growth in total factor productivity to accumulation of public capital. Second, we assess the role of public capital as an input to production. Third, we evaluate the reduction in costs that can be attributed to the presence of public infrastructure. Using regional data for Italy, we find that the aggregate impact of public capital is positive and significant under the first approach, slightly negative under the second, and virtually zero under the third. More coherent results obtain when disaggregating by geographical area and time period: under all three approaches, the effectiveness of public investment seems to be increasing over time and to be higher in Central and Southern regions than in Northern ones.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 176.

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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:176
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  1. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Catherine J. Morrison & Amy Ellen Schwartz, 1992. "State Infrastructure and Productive Performance," NBER Working Papers 3981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Morrison, Catherine J, 1988. "Quasi-Fixed Inputs in U.S. and Japanese Manufacturing: A Generalized Leontief Restricted Cost Function Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 275-87, May.
  5. David Aschauer, 1988. "Is public expenditure productive?," Staff Memoranda 88-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Charles L. Ballard & Don Fullerton, 1992. "Distortionary Taxes and the Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 117-131, Summer.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Federico Bonaglia & Eliana La Ferrara & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2000. "Public Capital and Economic Performance: Evidence from Italy," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 59(2), pages 221-244, September.
  10. David Aschauer, 1988. "Does public capital crowd out private capital?," Staff Memoranda 88-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. King, M A, 1972. "Corporate Taxation and Dividend Behaviour: A further Comment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 231-34, April.
  12. Morrison, Catherine J & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1996. "Public Infrastructure, Private Input Demand, and Economic Performance in New England Manufacturing," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(1), pages 91-101, January.
  13. 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.
  14. Lucio Picci, 1995. "Il 'Capitale mancante' nel Mezzogiorno italiano," Working Papers 212, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  15. Lucio Picci, 1999. "Productivity and Infrastructure in the Italian Regions," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 58(3-4), pages 329-353, December.
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