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Public Capital and Economic Growth: Issues of Quantity, Finance, and Efficiency


  • David Alan Aschauer


Over the past decade, a large body of theoretical and empirical research has considered the importance of the quantity of public capital for economic growth. For the most part, the empirical results point to a positive role for public capital in determining steady state levels of output per capita and transitional growth rates. At the same time, other work has pointed out the importance of the means of financing government spending for economic growth, with the empirical results indicating a negative influence of higher government spending (proxying for a higher rate of taxation of private sector economic activities) on economic growth. Finally, there is a budding literature on the importance of the effectiveness, or efficiency, of public capital to the growth process; the limited results in the literature suggest that the effectiveness of use of the public capital stock has a meaningful positive influence on growth. This paper develops a common framework to investigate the importance of all three of these aspects of the provision of public capital for growth in output per worker. The paper includes a simple extension of the neoclassical growth model of Solow (1956) and Swan (1956), and a consideration of the relative importance of the three aspects of public capital: "how much you have," "how you pay for it," and how you use it."
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Suggested Citation

  • David Alan Aschauer, 1998. "Public Capital and Economic Growth: Issues of Quantity, Finance, and Efficiency," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_233, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_233

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Alan Aschauer, 2000. "Do states optimize? Public capital and economic growth," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 34(3), pages 343-363.
    2. 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.
    3. Barro, Robert J & Mankiw, N Gregory & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1995. "Capital Mobility in Neoclassical Models of Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 103-115, March.
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    7. David Alan Aschauer, 1997. "Dynamic Output and Employment Effects of Public Capital," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_191, Levy Economics Institute.
    8. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
    9. Easterly, William & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Fiscal policy and economic growth: An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 417-458, December.
    10. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-963, September.
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    12. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-380, December.
    13. David Alan Aschauer, 1997. "Output and Employment Effects of Public Capital," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_190, Levy Economics Institute.
    14. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-251, April.
    15. NONNEMAN, Walter & VANHOUDT, Patrick, 1995. "A further augmentation of the Solow model and the empirics of economic growth for OECD countries," SESO Working Papers 1995005, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carmela Martin & Francisco J. Velazquez & Bernard Funck, 2001. "European Integration and Income Convergence : Lessons for Central and Eastern European Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13968.
    2. Mª Jesús Delgado & Inmaculada Álvarez, 2004. "Technological catch-up in the 15 European Union member states: the role of public and educational capital," European Economy Group Working Papers 31, European Economy Group.
    3. Amanda Carmignani & Francesco Bripi & Raffaela Giordano, 2011. "The quality of public services in Italy," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 84, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Fosu, Augustin Kwasi & Getachew, Yoseph Yilma & Ziesemer, Thomas H.W., 2016. "Optimal Public Investment, Growth, And Consumption: Evidence From African Countries," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(08), pages 1957-1986, December.
    5. Boopen Seetanah, 2011. "Optimal endowments of transport investment: an empirical analysis for mauritius," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 827-838, May.
    6. Carmela Martín & Ismael Sanz, 2003. "Real Convergence and European Integration: The Experience of the Less Developed EU Members," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 205-236, September.
    7. repec:eee:retrec:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:73-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mila Freire & Mario Polèse & Pamela Echeverria, 2003. "Connecting Cities with Macroeconomic Concerns : The Missing Link," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15058.
    9. Becerril-Torres, Osvaldo U. & Álvarez-Ayuso, Inmaculada C. & Del moral-Barrera, Laura E., 2010. "Do infrastructures influence the convergence of efficiency in Mexico?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 120-137, January.
    10. Augustin Kwasi Fosu & Yoseph Getachew & Thomas H.W. Ziesemer, 2014. "Optimal Public Investment, Growth, and Consumption: Fresh Evidence from African Countries," Working Papers 201464, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
    11. Matthew Abiodun Dada, 2015. "Theoretical Analysis of Microeconomic Effect of Public Investment," Asian Journal of Economic Modelling, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 3(1), pages 1-7, March.
    12. Rafaela Pérez Sánchez, 2004. "Characterizing the Optimal Composition of Government Expenditures," Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces E2004/81, Centro de Estudios Andaluces.
    13. Ianchovichina, Elena & Liu, Lili & Nagarajan, Mohan, 2006. "Subnational fiscal sustainability analysis : what can we learn from Tamil Nadu ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3947, The World Bank.
    14. Carmela Martín & Ismael Sanz, 2003. "Consequences of enlargement for European Regional Policy: the spanish viewpoint," European Economy Group Working Papers 27, European Economy Group.
    15. Carmela Martin & Francisco J. Velazquez., 2001. "An Assessment of Real Convergence of Less Developed EU Members: Lessons for the CEEC Candidates," European Economy Group Working Papers 5, European Economy Group.
    16. Erber, Georg & Hagemann, Harald, 2012. "Wachstums- und Investitionsdynamik in Deutschland," Violette Reihe: Schriftenreihe des Promotionsschwerpunkts "Globalisierung und Beschäftigung" 36/2012, University of Hohenheim, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Evangelisches Studienwerk.
    17. Mogues, Tewodaj & Ayele, Gezahegn & Paulos, Zelekawork & Fan, Shenggen, 2006. "How Effective is Public Spending? Public Investment Composition and Rural Welfare in Ethiopia," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21258, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    18. World Bank Group, 2016. "Malaysia Economic Monitor, December 2016," World Bank Other Operational Studies 25857, The World Bank.
    19. Howard Bodenhorn, 2017. "Finance and Growth: Household Savings, Public Investment, and Public Health in Late Nineteenth-Century New Jersey," NBER Working Papers 23430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. repec:eee:trapol:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:24-33 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Pellervo Hamalainen, 2009. "Review of literature on the productivity of public capital," Discussion Papers 55, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    22. Yang, Fang & Zhang, Dingzhong & Sun, Chuanwang, 2016. "China׳s regional balanced development based on the investment in power grid infrastructure," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1549-1557.

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