Does America Really Need More Infrastructure? Lessons from the Debate About the Role of the Railroads in the Development of the American West

45 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2008

Date Written: 1993

Abstract

This paper compares and contrasts two debates about the role of infrastructure in American economic growth and development. The contemporary policy debate revolves around the extent to which the observed decline in public works investment since 1960, measured as a proportion of GNP, has been a cause of the coincident decline of productivity over the same period. An earlier debate in the economic history field revolved around whether the railroads were "indispensable" to America's economic growth and how the building of a rail network affected the shape of that growth. In many ways the contemporary policy exchange is covering much of the same ground covered by analysts studying the railroads.

Keywords: transportation;railways;railroads;economic development;economic history;Fogel;Rostow;infrastructure;transport

JEL Classification: R40,O22,N71,N00

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Cameron Elliott, Does America Really Need More Infrastructure? Lessons from the Debate About the Role of the Railroads in the Development of the American West (1993). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089293 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1089293

Cameron Elliott Gordon (Contact Author)

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia
6201 2685 (Phone)

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