IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/imf/imfwpa/14-148.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Public Investment as an Engine of Growth

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew M. Warner

Abstract

This paper looks at the empirical record whether big infrastructure and public capital drives have succeeded in accelerating economic growth in low-income countries. It looks at big long-lasting drives in public capital spending, as these were arguably clear and exogenous policy decisions. On average the evidence shows only a weak positive association between investment spending and growth and only in the same year, as lagged impacts are not significant. Furthermore, there is little evidence of long term positive impacts. Some individual countries may be exceptions to this general result, as for example Ethiopia in recent years, as high public investment has coincided with high GDP growth, but it is probably too early to draw definitive conclusions. The fact that the positive association is largely instantaneous argues for the importance of either reverse causality, as capital spending tends to be cut in slumps and increased in booms, or Keynesian demand effects, as spending boosts output in the short run. It argues against the importance of long term productivity effects, as these are triggered by the completed investments (which take several years) and not by the mere spending on the investments. In fact a slump in growth rather than a boom has followed many public capital drives of the past. Case studies indicate that public investment drives tend eventually to be financed by borrowing and have been plagued by poor analytics at the time investment projects were chosen, incentive problems and interest-group-infested investment choices. These observations suggest that the current public investment drives will be more likely to succeed if governments do not behave as in the past, and instead take analytical issues seriously and safeguard their decision process against interests that distort public investment decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew M. Warner, 2014. "Public Investment as an Engine of Growth," IMF Working Papers 14/148, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:14/148
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=41838
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Charles R. Hulten, 1996. "Infrastructure Capital and Economic Growth: How Well You Use It May Be More Important Than How Much You Have," NBER Working Papers 5847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
    3. Gramlich, Edward M, 1994. "Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1176-1196, September.
    4. Andrew Berg & Rafael A Portillo & Edward F Buffie & Catherine A Pattillo & Luis-Felipe Zanna, 2012. "Public Investment, Growth, and Debt Sustainability; Putting together the Pieces," IMF Working Papers 12/144, International Monetary Fund.
    5. John G. Fernald, 1999. "Roads to Prosperity? Assessing the Link between Public Capital and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 619-638, June.
    6. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Swaroop, Vinaya & Heng-fu, Zou, 1996. "The composition of public expenditure and economic growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 313-344, April.
    7. Don Patinkin, 1993. "Israel's Stabilization Program of 1985, or Some Simple Truths of Monetary Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 103-128, Spring.
    8. 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.
    9. Gupta, Sanjeev & Kangur, Alvar & Papageorgiou, Chris & Wane, Abdoul, 2014. "Efficiency-Adjusted Public Capital and Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-178.
    10. David Canning & Peter Pedroni, 2008. "Infrastructure, Long-Run Economic Growth And Causality Tests For Cointegrated Panels," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 76(5), pages 504-527, September.
    11. Robert S. Dohner & Ponciano Intal, Jr., 1989. "III: The Marcos Legacy: Economic Policy and Foreign Debt in the Philippines," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 3: Country Studies - Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Turkey, pages 371-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:198-215 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Asian Development Bank Institute, 2017. "Local Currency Bonds and Infrastructure Finance in ASEAN+3," Working Papers id:11883, eSocialSciences.
    3. Jean-Marc Fournier, 2016. "The Positive Effect of Public Investment on Potential Growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1347, OECD Publishing.
    4. Presbitero, Andrea F., 2016. "Too much and too fast? Public investment scaling-up and absorptive capacity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 17-31.
    5. repec:vrn:journl:y:2017:i:3:p:281-290 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kose,Ayhan & Ohnsorge,Franziska Lieselotte & Ye,Lei Sandy & Islamaj,Ergys, 2017. "Weakness in investment growth : causes, implications and policy responses," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7990, The World Bank.
    7. Melina, Giovanni & Yang, Shu-Chun S. & Zanna, Luis-Felipe, 2016. "Debt sustainability, public investment, and natural resources in developing countries: The DIGNAR model," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 630-649.
    8. repec:ipf:psejou:v:42:y:2018:i:2:p:171-186 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Guerguil, Martine & Mandon, Pierre & Tapsoba, René, 2017. "Flexible fiscal rules and countercyclical fiscal policy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 189-220.
    10. repec:spr:jecfin:v:42:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s12197-017-9411-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. World Bank Group, 2017. "Global Economic Prospects, January 2017," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 25823, August.
    12. Moller,Lars Christian & Wacker,Konstantin M., 2015. "Ethiopia?s growth acceleration and how to sustain it?insights from a cross-country regression model," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7292, The World Bank.
    13. Don Drummond & Evan Capeluck & Matthew Calver, 2015. "The Key Challenge for Canadian Public Policy: Generating Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth," CSLS Research Reports 2015-11, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    14. repec:eee:rujoec:v:1:y:2015:i:1:p:30-54 is not listed on IDEAS

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:14/148. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jim Beardow) or (Hassan Zaidi). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/imfffus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.