Distributive Impacts and Support for Mass Transportation Projects
An Experimental Evaluation in Bogotá, Colombia
Alishia C. Holland
Who supports mass infrastructure projects? Mass transportation infrastructure, such as metros and highways, is hugely expensive. But it also can deliver widespread benefits to users and windfall gains to nearby property owners and developers. This paper examines whether the uneven spatial incidence constrains infrastructure development in democracies using a new survey technique called Quadratic Voting. Surprisingly, I find little evidence that personal costs and benefits shape support for mass infrastructure. Proximity and public transit use do not predict support, and a survey experiment shows that different financing options have little impact on popular support. Rather, beliefs about whether mass infrastructure delivers benefits to the whole city, such as reducing traffic and improving pollution, are the primary determinants of support. The implications are that politicians and urban planners can build support for transportation projects by stressing shared benefits for the city and educating voters about alternative ways to finance transit infrastructure like value capture.