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Cart or Horse: Transport and Economic Growth

  • Tim Leunig

This paper argues that transport is more cart than horse, in that transport improvements are not the most important driver of economic growth for most countries. Nevertheless there are circumstances in which transport is particularly important. Big transport breakthroughs – such as replacing walking with railways, or creating a highways network for the first time – do have big effects, but these are unlikely to be seen again in developed economies. Instead transport in developed economies is best seen as having a supporting role. If it is neglected, it can constrain growth, as congestion and unreliable transport systems can exact a heavy price. But as long as the transport system is “good enough”, the returns to greater transport investment will be relatively limited.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg9mq4ws027-en
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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series International Transport Forum Discussion Papers with number 2011/4.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:oec:itfaab:2011/4-en
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  15. Tim Leunig, 2010. "Social Savings," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 775-800, December.
  16. Joshua J. Lewer & Hendrik Van den Berg, 2003. "How Large Is International Trade's Effect on Economic Growth?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(3), pages 363-396, 07.
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