The Private Provision of Transportation Infrastructure in Antebellum America: Lessons and Warnings

Posted: 7 Feb 2009

See all articles by Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

Paul Coverdell Distinguished Visiting Fellow of Policy Studies

Brian Phillips Murphy

Baruch College Department of History

Date Written: January, 30 2009

Abstract

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, N81

Suggested Citation

Wright, Robert Eric and Murphy, Brian Phillips, The Private Provision of Transportation Infrastructure in Antebellum America: Lessons and Warnings (January, 30 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1335301

Robert Eric Wright (Contact Author)

Paul Coverdell Distinguished Visiting Fellow of Policy Studies ( email )

Milledgeville, GA 31061-0490
United States

Brian Phillips Murphy

Baruch College Department of History ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States
646-312-4342 (Phone)

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