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Railroads and Land Grant Policy - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124911802, 9781483257990

Railroads and Land Grant Policy

1st Edition

A Study in Government Intervention

Author: Lloyd J. Mercer
eBook ISBN: 9781483257990
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 28th January 1982
Page Count: 284
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Railroads and Land Grant Policy: A Study in Government Intervention attempts to replace a major part of the railroad land grant legend (according to which the granting of federal and state land to private railroad firms benefitted these firms more than it contributed to society as a whole) with some real numbers and analysis. An attempt is made to put the income and wealth distribution impact of the railroad land grants in perspective, but thorough analysis of this issue is not undertaken. The primary question this study does try to illuminate is that of the effect of the railroad land grants on economic efficiency. This emphasis was chosen because it seems clear that improvement of economic efficiency was the major goal that Congress and various state legislatures sought to attain, and thus the examination of economic efficiency questions is fundamental to evaluation of railroad land grant policy. This study will not completely replace the railroad land grant legend (because much is not covered here), but it does represent a considerable diminution of that legend.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables


1. Introduction

Land Grants: Government Intervention in the Market

Subsidy, Profitability, and Railroad Investment

The Railroad Land Grants

Historiography of the Land Grants

Objectives of the Study

2. Economic Issues in Railroad Land Grant Policy

Building Ahead of Demand

External Economies from Railroad Operation

Railroads as Natural Monopolies

Capital Market Imperfections

Hypotheses of the Land Grant Advocates

Railroad Land Grants and the Distribution of Income


3. Building the Land Grant Railroads

The Central Pacific System

The Union Pacific System

The Texas and Pacific System

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe System

The Northern Pacific System

The Great Northern Railway System

The Canadian Pacific System


4. Private Rates of Return

Subsidy Unnecessary

Subsidy Necessary but Inadequate

Subsidy Necessary and Adequate


5. Social Rates of Return

Intraregional Benefits

Interregional Benefits

Passenger Benefits

The Social Returns Stream

Tests of Hypotheses B1 and B2

6. Building Ahead of Demand

Test of the Fishlow Hypothesis for the Land Grant Systems

Estimation of Investment Demand

Capacity Utilization

The Overbuilding Hypothesis

Building Ahead of Demand

7 Summary

Economic Rationality of Land Grant Policy

Building Ahead of Demand

Evaluation of the Railroad Land Grants

Appendix A: Investment Expenditure

Appendix B: Capital Earnings

Appendix C: Net Land Grant Revenue

Appendix D: Zero Rent Perimeters

Appendix E: Intraregional Benefits

Appendix F: Interregional Benefits

Appendix G: Passenger Benefits

Appendix H: Loan Subsidy Cost

Appendix I: Capital Stocks



No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1982
28th January 1982
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Lloyd J. Mercer

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