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The welfare effects of infrastructure investment in a heterogeneous agents economy

John Gibson and Felix Rioja

The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, 2020, vol. 20, issue 1, 17

Abstract: Public infrastructure is one of the foundations for the economic growth of a country. While there is a strong consensus regarding infrastructure’s effect on growth, less is known about the effect of infrastructure on welfare and the distribution of wealth. In this paper, we examine the quantitative effect of infrastructure investment on welfare and the degree of inequality present within a developing country. In so doing, we characterize the effects resulting from increased infrastructure investment by tracing out the entire transition path between steady states. Three results standout: (i) both average and individual welfare effects are sizable, regardless of how the additional investment is financed, (ii) when distortionary taxes are adjusted to finance additional investment, poorer agents benefit more when the interest income tax is used, while richer agents benefit more when either the consumption or labor income taxes are used, (iii) inequality, as measured by the wealth Gini, rises in the short-run, but the long-run effect depends on which financing method is chosen.

Keywords: incomplete markets; individual welfare; inequality; infrastructure; transitional dynamics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1515/bejm-2019-0095

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