The Private Provision of Transportation Infrastructure in Antebellum America: Lessons and Warnings
Robert E. Wright
Augustana College - Division of Social Sciences
Brian Phillips Murphy
Baruch College Department of History
January, 30 2009
Government involvement in transportation infrastructure is often wasteful because improvements are made where they are not needed or necessary improvements are more costly or of lower quality than they would be if privately owned. Early in the nation's history, large numbers of bridges, roads, canals and the like were owned and operated by private corporations, strongly suggesting that they are not pure public goods and could be privately owned and operated again. The early U.S. experience points to some of the problems associated with privately owned infrastructure but also suggests ways of mitigating them.
Keywords: transportation infrastructure, market failures, government failures, hybrid failures, public goods, private ownership
JEL Classification: H11, H4, H54, N41, N61, N71, N81working papers series
Date posted: February 7, 2009
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