Providing Quality Infrastructure in Rural Villages: The Case of Rural Roads in China

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Journal of Development Economics

March 2013

journal of development economics

When seeking to build high quality and cost-effective infrastructure in rural villages, a fundamental question is: Who is better at doing so? Should the village leadership or a government agency above the village finance and/or manage the construction of the infrastructure project? To answer this question, we surveyed all rural road projects in 101 villages in rural China between 2003 and 2007 and measured the quality and per kilometer cost of each road. According to our analysis, road quality was higher when more of the project funds came from the government agency above. Moreover, projects had lower cost per kilometer when the village leaders managed the road construction. Overall, our findings suggest that to build high quality and cost-effective rural roads village leaders and government agencies should collaborate and each specialize in a specific project role.

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