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Is Infrastructure Productive? Evaluating the effects of specific infrastructure projects on firm productivity within New Zealand


  • Jason Timmins

    () (Department of Labour)


The paper investigates the feasibility of using a variant of the spatial equilibrium model to estimate the productivity effects of a specific infrastructure project in New Zealand. Policy makers are interested in the marginal effects of infrastructure investment on productivity and an evaluation of such effects would provide a useful check on the appropriateness and adequacy of current decision rules and institutions. To date, there appear to be no examples of using a spatial equilibrium model to estimate the productivity effects of a specific infrastructure project. However, the analysis in this paper suggests that such an approach is feasible. There is a range of data and estimation issues that needs to be addressed in the use of a spatial equilibrium model for this purpose, but we find that a reasonably useful range of data is available in New Zealand. The next step in determining feasibility is to select a particular infrastructure project, and to develop an empirical model based on available data.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Timmins, 2005. "Is Infrastructure Productive? Evaluating the effects of specific infrastructure projects on firm productivity within New Zealand," Working Papers 05_14, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:05_14

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
    2. Gramlich, Edward M, 1994. "Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1176-1196, September.
    3. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-1278, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen, 2005. "Valuing rail access using transport innovations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 148-169, January.
    6. Haughwout, Andrew F., 2002. "Public infrastructure investments, productivity and welfare in fixed geographic areas," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 405-428, March.
    7. Angel de la Fuente, 2010. "Infrastructures and Productivity: an Updated Survey," Working Papers 475, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2006. "Urban growth and housing supply," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 71-89, January.
    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. Haughwout, Andrew F., 1998. "Aggregate Production Functions, Interregional Equilibrium, and the Measurement of Infrastructure Productivity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 216-227, September.
    11. Randall W. Eberts, 1990. "Cross-sectional analysis of public infrastructure and regional productivity growth," Working Paper 9004, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    12. Alicia H. Munnell, 1992. "Policy Watch: Infrastructure Investment and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 189-198, Fall.
    13. Garcia-Mila, Teresa & McGuire, Therese J & Porter, Robert H, 1996. "The Effect of Public Capital in State-Level Production Functions Reconsidered," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 177-180, February.
    14. Jeremy B. Rudd, 2000. "Assessing the productivity of public capital with a locational equilibrium model," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    More about this item


    Infrastructure; regional economics; land and labour markets;

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets


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