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Rural Highway Expansion and Economic Development: Impacts on Private Earnings and Employment

Author

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  • Michael Iacono
  • David Levinson

    () (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)

Abstract

With the interstate system substantially complete, the majority of new investment in highways is likely to take the form of selective capacity expansion projects in urban areas, along with incremental expansions and upgrades to expressway or freeway standards of existing intercity highway corridors. This paper focuses specifically on the latter type of project, rural highway expansions designed to connect smaller outstate cities and towns, and examines their effects on industry-level private earnings and local employment. We examine three case study projects in rural Minnesota and use panel data on local earnings and employment to estimate the impacts of the improvements. Our results indicate that none of the projects studied generated statistically significant increases in earnings or employment, a finding we attribute to the relatively small time savings associated with the projects and the maturity of the highway network. We suggest that for rural highway expansion projects, as with other types of transportation projects, user benefits should be a primary evaluation criterion rather than employment impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Iacono & David Levinson, 2012. "Rural Highway Expansion and Economic Development: Impacts on Private Earnings and Employment," Working Papers 000101, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:ruralexpansion
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11299/179816
    File Function: First version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Piyapong Jiwattanakulpaisarn & Robert B. Noland & Daniel J. Graham & John W. Polak, 2009. "Highway infrastructure and state-level employment: A causal spatial analysis," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 133-159, March.
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    11. Steven C. Deller & Tsung-Hsiu (Sue) Tsai & David W. Marcouiller & Donald B.K. English, 2001. "The Role of Amenities and Quality of Life In Rural Economic Growth," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(2), pages 352-365.
    12. Keeler, Theodore E. & Ying, John S., 1988. "Measuring the benefits of a large public investment : The case of the U.S. Federal-aid highway system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 69-85, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    network expansion; economic evaluation; regional growth; rural development; economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning

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