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Defining Economic Impact and Benefit Metrics from Multiple Perspectives: Lessons from Both Sides of the Atlantic. Glen Weisbrod Economic Development Research Group Boston, MA, USA. David Simmonds David Simmonds Consultancy Cambridge, England. European Transport Conference

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Defining Economic Impact and Benefit Metrics from Multiple Perspectives:Lessons from Both Sides of the Atlantic

Glen Weisbrod

Economic Development Research Group

Boston, MA, USA

David Simmonds

David Simmonds Consultancy

Cambridge, England

European Transport Conference

Glasgow, 11 October, 2011

Why us uk comparison
Why US-UK Comparison ? Perspectives:

  • Different approaches to evaluation / appraisal

  • Different roles for various levels of government

  • Yet same metrics & concepts, though applied differently

  • Universality of lessons drawn, applicable elsewhere

MCA= Multi-Criteria Analysis

Topics Perspectives:

  • Different Metrics and Motivations

  • Productivity & Wider Economic Benefits

  • Inclusion in Appraisal & Prioritisation

  • Incorporating Spatial Scales & Access Factors

  • Implications for Planning & Decision-making

Different metrics motivations
Different Metrics & Motivations Perspectives:


  • Economic Impact - money flow in economy, change in jobs and GVP or GDP (in a specified area)

  • Economic Benefit- welfare gain, money + non-money benefits (“willingness to pay”) for CBA

  • Productivity Benefit - growth in VA per worker or investment unit, due to WEB … (welfare gain and economic impact net of spatial redistribution)


Support Key Industries

Regenerate Target Areas

Enhance Competitiveness

Value for Money

Return on Investment

Case example intermodal freight facility
Case Example: Intermodal Freight Facility Perspectives:


  • Project Goals (PPP)

    • Open intermodal truck/rail container yard

    • Public improvement of truck routes

    • Private improvement of freight rail infrastructure

    • Adjacent industrial development

  • Economic Goals

    • Reduce costs & competitiveness for area manufacturers (via enhanced efficiency & market access/scale)

    • Expand warehouse/distribution activities

    • Attract manufacturing with high paying jobs

    • Public return on use of public funds

Productivity webs
Productivity & WEBs Perspectives:

Krugman (1995) concept of agglomeration economies as disproportionate concentrations of specific industries at specific locations, enabled by access to wider markets, including:

  • Labour markets: “commuting”

  • Intermediate markets: “supply chains”

  • Final demand markets: “delivery”

Labour Market - Chicago(40 min commute area)

US Auto Parts Supply Chain Corridors

Same Day Delivery Market – Portland , OR (3 hr. trip)

Case examples market access us
Case Examples: Market Access (US) Perspectives:

Completing the Appalachian Development Highway System (cross-mountain connectors): Areas with Change in Gateway Market Access



Int. Air Gateway


Intermodal Rail Markets

Intl. PortMarkets

Same Day Delivery Mkts

Case example productivity market scale us
Case Example: Productivity & Market Scale (US) Perspectives:

For Trans Equip Mfg…

  • Access to truck delivery markets has largest impact on productivity, esp. in medium and large business markets

  • Access to labour & airport markets have smaller but constant impacts on productivity

For tourism industry…

  • Increasing productivity with access to larger population markets

  • Same-day drive market and airport access have the strongest incremental impact on this industry, esp. in medium size markets.

Appraisal prioritisation
Appraisal & Prioritisation Perspectives:

Wider Outcomes: CBA (incl. productivity)

Macro-Econ (jobs, GRP, GVA)

Transport Drivers of WEB – reliability, market access, inter-modal connectivity

Economic Considerations

  • UK –WEB productivity in CBA, Local Outcomes in Appraisal Table

  • US DOT– CBA allows for WEB productivity, local outcomes in qualitative considerations

  • US States – most recognize drivers of WEBs and local outcomes in MCA; others model WEB productivity for scoring points or macro-econ outcomes


Econ Effect – productivity

Local Outcomes: Regeneration, Land Devel,

Industry Growth Targets,

Private Investment

Case example economic factors in appraisal
Case Example: Economic Factors in Appraisal Perspectives:

X = factor explicitly included as an element of the rating system;

(x) = factor implicitly allowed via calculation of additional productivity benefit in CBA

(a) = factor implicitly included as a component of the macroeconomic productivity calculation (using TREDIS in US and agglomeration benefit guidance for DfT and Transport Scotland);

(b) = factor included in travel efficiency benefit shown above

“ - ” = factor not formally recognized as a separate element of the rating system, but may still be considered through other elements of the project appraisal and selection process

Spatial scales access factors
Spatial Scales & Access Factors Perspectives:

  • Scale: Macro (national), Meso (region, metropolitan), Micro (neighborhood)

  • Error propagated by assuming housing and labor markets respond similarly (towards equilibrium) at all spatial scales

  • Error propagated by assuming national transport investment impacts (on industry-wide technology, labor intensity and wage rates) transfer similarly to single project impacts.

  • Increasing market access (and raising effective density) should be reconciled with travel models (forecasts of induced VKT) and land use models (scenarios for business location and clustering)

Planning decision making moving forward or backward
Planning & Decision-making: Perspectives:moving forward or backward?

  • Value to generalised agglomeration factors, but sometimes also value to recognizing productivity differences by mode, spatial scale, element of the economy

  • Useful to identify local/regional as well as national effects on productivity & competitiveness

  • Value in analysing effects on gross value added as well as net productivity

  • Same types of models may not be equally appropriate for policy, planning, prioritisation, and project design alternatives analysis.

Thank you
Thank you Perspectives:

Glen Weisbrod

[email protected]

David Simmonds

[email protected]