Insight in a quagmire : leveraging societal factors in transportation research


Gary DeCramer

December 1995

Report no. Mn/DOT 1995-32


Economics, Planning

This paper is a story of a search for research that pays off. There is a common assumption that investment in transportation infrastructure brings economic returns. Sometimes those returns are exaggerated; sometimes those returns are double counted; sometimes those returns do not happen; sometimes society is worse off. There is great interest in justifying public infrastructure expenditures in the name of economic development. This paper explores how can we prevent transportation/economic development research from becoming a mound of exaggerated benefit claims by demonstrating how and why we can keep from relegating societal impacts to a sinking bog. The paper recommends research which tells a more accurate story of the linkage between economic development and transportation investment.

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