Theses Doctoral

Essays on Infrastructure and Development

Tompsett, Anna

Spending on infrastructure accounts for several percentage points of global world product, reflecting its perceived importance to growth and development. Previous literature has made limited progress in providing unbiased estimates of its impacts, or causal evidence about policy changes that can alter this impact. Primarily, this is because of the selection problem: locations in which infrastructure is built differ from those in which it is not built. This dissertation provides evidence towards three important questions related to infrastructure and development. First, what role does manmade transport infrastructure play in determining and maintaining patterns of economic geography? Second, to what degree does the relocation of economic activity in response to changes in the transport infrastructure network affect estimates of the economic impact of those changes? Third, what is the effect of involving beneficiary communities in decision-making on projects to improve local infrastructure? To address the selection problem, Chapters 2 and 3 exploit quasi-experimental variation in distance to a land transport route created by the opening and location of bridges over major rivers in the historical United States, using a new dataset containing every bridge built over the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Chapter 4 presents evidence from a randomized experiment in Bangladesh.


  • thumnail for Tompsett_columbia_0054D_12148.pdf Tompsett_columbia_0054D_12148.pdf application/pdf 3 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Sustainable Development
Thesis Advisors
Verhoogen, Eric A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014