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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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Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_233.

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Date of creation: Apr 1998
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Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_233
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  1. Nonneman, Walter & Vanhoudt, Patrick, 1996. "A Further Augmentation of the Solow Model and the Empirics of Economic Growth for OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 943-53, August.
  2. William Easterly & Sergio Rebelo, 1993. "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 4499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence Across States and Regions," Papers 629, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  4. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  6. David Alan Aschauer, 1997. "Do States Optimize?: Public Capital and Economic Growth," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_189, Levy Economics Institute.
  7. Barro, Robert J. & Mankiw, N Gregory & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1994. "Capital Mobility in Neoclassical Models of Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1019, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. David Alan Aschauer, 1997. "Dynamic Output and Employment Effects of Public Capital," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_191, Levy Economics Institute.
  9. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  10. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
  11. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
  14. David Alan Aschauer, 1997. "Output and Employment Effects of Public Capital," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_190, Levy Economics Institute.
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