Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications Can white elephants kill? Unintended consequences of infrastructure development

Can white elephants kill? Unintended consequences of infrastructure development

IFS Working Paper W22/27

I provide evidence of the severe social costs imposed by infrastructure projects that are being implemented (i.e., projects started but not yet completed) in the context of sewerage in Peru. Using a counterfactual implementation predicted from geography-based cost considerations as an instrument, I show that implemented projects increase infant and under-five mortality. These results are driven by hazards, poor hygienic conditions and unsafe behavior, which increase deaths by waterborne diseases and accidents. Delays and mid-construction halting are common, and exacerbate the lethal effects of projects. Failing to take the implementation phase into account could severely bias the welfare evaluation of infrastructure.

More on this topic

IFS Working Paper W22/25
We develop a model demonstrating that in-kind transfers are welfare improving to beneficiaries relative to cash if the covariance between the marginal utility of income and price is positive.
IFS Working Paper W22/18
We study how social proximity between the sender and the receiver of information shapes the effectiveness of preventive health behaviour campaigns and the persistence of misinformation.
IFS Working Paper W22/16
This paper provides novel evidence on the trade-off between public service delivery and free riding in low- and middle-income countries.