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Corruption and ReformLessons from America's Economic History$
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Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226299570

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226299594.001.0001

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Digging the Dirt at Public Expense

Digging the Dirt at Public Expense

Governance in the Building of the Erie Canal and Other Public Works

(p.95) 3 Digging the Dirt at Public Expense
Corruption and Reform
Stanley L. Engerman, Kenneth L. Sokoloff
University of Chicago Press

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

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