A Bridge Too Far?
China Keeps Ramping Up Infrastructure, But The Payoff Isn't Always Clear
The longest, the highest, the biggest arch: China's record-setting bridges come in all shapes and sizes. But while they may produce impressive structures, these construction projects often don't spur the intended economic activity. The country is home to 81 of the world's 100 highest bridges, and the building bonanza shows no signs of slowing. China leads the world in economic infrastructure spending by a wide margin, and President Xi Jinping has heralded such projects as crucial to the economic development of the country. Despite the government's enthusiasm, however, less than one-third of the country's road and rail projects that were built between 1984 and 2008 were genuinely economically productive, according to a sample of projects that were analyzed in an Oxford Review of Economic Policy article published last year.