Why is public infrastructure so much more expensive in the United States than anywhere else? Why has the increase in cost of public infrastructure so far outstripped the increase in general price levels, or even the costs of direct construction inputs?

We came across an interesting paper concluding that a primary driver in those outcomes has been the increase of “citizen voice.” The authors demonstrate that the ability of citizens and residents to object, delay or just complain explains a large part of the increases they examined. Some of this “voice” leads to improved outcomes (in our view) – no more interstates just plowing through minority neighborhoods. But sometimes it’s just complaining or an aspect of negative NIMBY-ism. And the paper suggests that the more affluent the neighbors, the bigger the cost of “voice.”

[We hope the authors won’t think we have overstated or otherwise misrepresented their conclusions!]

Here’s a link to the paper:

Brooks and Liscow, Infrastructure Costs.