Digging the Dirt at Public Expense

Edited by Stanley L. Engerman and Kenneth L. Sokoloff

in Corruption and Reform

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226299570
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226299594 | DOI:
Digging the Dirt at Public Expense

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This chapter examines corruption in the construction of the Erie Canal in New York using evidence on cost overruns for major governmental projects and news reports from newspapers from 1815 to 1975. The analysis reveals that while there was obviously some fraud and mismanagement, the public authorities carried out the work at costs relatively close (by the standards of public projects) to those projected at the point of authorization. This chapter also describes how the Erie Canal project inspired unprecedented public investment in transportation infrastructure.

Keywords: Erie Canal; corruption; cost overruns; governmental projects; New York; fraud; mismanagement; public investment; transportation infrastructure

Chapter.  14818 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic History

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