Transportation infrastructure investment during economic downturns often occurs too slowly—and in insufficient quantities—to help stabilize the economy. Andrew Haughwout of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York proposes a modification of the BUILD grant program that would automatically fund additional transportation infrastructure investments during recessions.
Policy debates often focus only on major decisions made in Washington, DC. But for many Americans, the decisions made much closer to home have just as large, if not larger, effects on day-to-day life. These nine economic facts highlight the important economic roles of state and local governments, emphasizing how their budgetary and regulatory decisions affect access to opportunity. Transportation and land-use policy receive particular attention given their large impacts on the patterns of economic activity.
There is broad agreement about the importance of transportation infrastructure, but disagreement about the goals of transportation policy and the appropriate means to achieve these goals. In this paper, Matthew Turner of Brown University examines the current state of U.S. infrastructure and discusses different reforms that focus on improving both access to opportunity and the efficiency of the highway and bus transit systems.
Many place-based policies have been unsuccessful, failing to deliver cost-effective benefits to disadvantaged communities; meanwhile areas across the county have large and rising concentration of poverty. David Neumark proposes that the federal government subsidize employment in places that are struggling, focusing on nonprofit jobs that contribute to local public goods.
This paper seeks to provide an economic framework for evaluating infrastructure investments and their methods of funding and finance. Why should we invest in infrastructure, what projects should be selected, who should decide, and how should those investments be paid for are all questions that can be better answered with the help of sound economic theory and evidence.
Many agree on the need for increased investment in America’s aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and airports. This set of economic facts provide objective background to help guide necessary policy and political discussions.