NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research
Edited by Kenneth Button and Aura Reggiani
Kenneth Button and Aura Reggiani 1.1 INTRODUCTION Modern, positive economics is generally traced back to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and, with perhaps less agreement, the normative side to his Theory of Moral Sentiments. These books provide a consistent and structured way of looking at both matters of overall economic efficiency and questions concerning the distribution of the gains from this efficiency. In combination, they emphasize that economic efficiency does not automatically correlate with social welfare, although the links are generally strong. The importance of this when considering transportation policies is apparent in many areas, not least of which is the challenge of how to weigh up broader issues of access and mobility with the narrow considerations of increasing more conventionally defined income levels. The focus of the contributions to this edited volume, however, is on the more limited notions of economic development. Economic development is one of the primary objectives of most democratic governments; dictatorships and despots often have somewhat different goals. But economic development by these governments, whether they are national, state, or local, is not, as we have highlighted, normally seen as simply a matter of maximizing some standard economic index such as gross domestic product (GDP). Certainly there are strong links between trends in GDP and social welfare, if nothing else a fast growing GDP allows governments more flexibility and opportunities in meeting their wider policy agendas. Governments, for example, have clearly been shown to be as much, if not more, concerned over the long term...