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Bureaucracy, Infrastructure, and Economic Growth: Evidence from U.S. Cities During the Progressive Era

  • James E. Rauch

Recent work in the sociology of economic development has emphasized the establishment of a professional bureaucracy in place of political appointees as an important component of the institutional environment in which private enterprise can flourish. I hypothesize that establishment of such a bureaucracy will lengthen the period that public decision makers are willing to wait to realize the benefits of expenditures, leading to allocation of a greater proportion of government resources to long-gestation period projects such as infrastructure. This hypothesis can be tested using data generated by a `natural experiment' in the early part of this century, when a wave of municipal reform transformed the governments of many U.S. cities. Controlling for city and time effects, adoption of Civil Service is found to increase the share of total municipal expenditure allocated to road and sewer investment. Other estimates imply that this increased share raises the growth rate of city manufacturing employment by one-half percent per year.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4973.

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Date of creation: Dec 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, Vol. 85 (September 1995): 968-979.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4973
Note: EFG PE
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  1. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
  2. De Long, J. Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei, 1993. "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth before the Industrial Revolution," Scholarly Articles 3451302, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 4486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cukierman, Alex & Kalaitzidakis, Pantelis & Summers, Lawrence H. & Webb, Steven B., 1993. "Central bank independence, growth, investment, and real rates," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 95-140, December.
  5. Rauch, James E, 1993. "Does History Matter Only When It Matters Little? The Case of City-Industry Location," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 843-67, August.
  6. James E. Rauch, 1991. "Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities," NBER Working Papers 3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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