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Did New Deal and World War II Public Capital Investments Facilitate a “Big Push” in the American South?

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The “big push” theory claims that publicly coordinated investment can break the cycle of poverty by helping developing economies overcome deficiencies in private incentives that prevent firms from adopting modern production techniques and achieving scale economies. Despite a flurry of research, however, scholars have offered scarce few real-world episodes that seem to fit the theoretical model. We argue that the postwar performance of the American South, which followed large public capital investments during the Great Depression and World War II, is such an application. Both econometric analysis and a contemporary survey of firms strongly support the notion that big-push dynamics were at work.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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  • Founded as Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft in 1844.

    As one of the oldest journals in the field of political economy, the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE) deals traditionally with the problems of economics, social policy, and their legal framework. JITE is listed in the Journal of Economic Literature, the Social Science Citation Index, the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, and COREJ.

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    From 2013 on all accepted articles are published in an Online First version (in their final layout) to make them searchable and citable by their DOI immediately after peer review and acceptance. Once the article is published in an issue of the journal, the Online First version will be removed.

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