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Infrastructure and Finance: Evidence from India
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Infrastructure and Finance: Evidencefrom India's GQ Highway NetworkAbhiman DasArti GroverRamana NandaWorking Paper 19-121Ejaz GhaniWilliam Kerr

Infrastructure and Finance: Evidencefrom India's GQ Highway NetworkAbhiman DasEjaz GhaniIIM AhmedabadWorld BankArti GroverWilliam KerrWorld BankHarvard Business SchoolRamana NandaHarvard Business SchoolWorking Paper 19-121Copyright 2019 by Abhiman Das, Ejaz Ghani, Arti Grover, William Kerr, and Ramana NandaWorking papers are in draft form. This working paper is distributed for purposes of comment and discussion only. It maynot be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Copies of working papers are available from the author.

Infrastructure and Finance: Evidence from India’sGQ Highway NetworkAbhiman DasEjaz GhaniArti GroverIIM AhmedabadWorld BankWorld BankWilliam KerrRamana NandaHarvard Business SchoolHarvard Business SchoolJune 2019AbstractWe use the construction of India’s Golden Quadrangle (GQ) central highway network, together with comprehensive loan data drawn from the Reserve Bank of India,to investigate the interaction between infrastructure development and nancial sector depth. We identify a disproportionate increase in loan count and average loansize in districts along the GQ highway network using stringent speci cations withindustry and district xed e ects. Our results hold in straight-line IV frameworksand are not present in ‘placebo tests’with another highway that was planned to beupgraded at the same time as GQ but subsequently delayed. Importantly, however,results are concentrated in districts with stronger initial nancial development, suggesting that while nancing does respond to large infrastructure investments andhelp spur real economic outcomes, initial nancial sector development might playan important role in determining where real activity will grow.Author institutions and contact details: Das: Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad,[email protected]; Ghani: World Bank, [email protected]; Grover Goswami: World Bank,[email protected]; Kerr: Harvard University, Bank of Finland, and NBER, [email protected]; Nanda:Harvard University and NBER, [email protected] Acknowledgments: We are grateful to seminarparticipants for helpful suggestions/comments. We are particularly indebted to Louis Maiden, KatieMcWilliams, Sarah Elizabeth Antos, and Henry Jewell for excellent data work and maps. Funding forthis project was graciously provided by a Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries grantby the Centre for Economic Policy Research, Harvard Business School, and the World Bank’s Multi-DonorTrade Trust Fund. Das was with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), when this project was initiated. Theviews expressed in the paper are not the views of the RBI, or of any institution the authors are currentlyassociated with.1

1IntroductionIn recent years, there has been widespread acceptance of the view that nance playsa fundamental role in shaping the rate, direction and location of real economic activity(Levine, 1997). Financial development has also been shown to be a key driver of economicgrowth through its role in impacting entrepreneurship and rm dynamics (King and Levine1993a,b; Kerr and Nanda, 2009), innovation (Kortum and Lerner, 2000; Hsu, Tian and Xu,2014; Nanda and Nicholas, 2014) and reallocation towards more e cient rms (Jayaratneand Strahan 1996; Rajan and Zingales, 1998; Bertrand, Schoar and Thesmar 2007).While this role of nance is well-established, a key policy question still remains: canone spur growth and development in areas with low nancial development through othermeans such as infrastructure spending, or is nance a necessary condition for growthto occur? From both a theoretical and policy standpoint, this question is important forseveral reasons. First, infrastructure spending is increasingly seen as a key policy lever forgovernments to drive economic growth. Rapidly expanding countries like India and Chinaface severe constraints on their transportation infrastructure, which has been describedby academics and business leaders as a critical hurdle for further development. Evenin advanced economies, continued urbanization, demographic trends, and climate changecall for an acceleration of investment in infrastructure. However, there is a very limitedunderstanding of the economic impact of those projects and their interaction with the nancial sector.1Second, the degree to which nancial development is necessary for economic growth hasimportant implications for models of development and policy. If infrastructure spendingcan overcome the limitations of weak nancial development, this is an important insightfor policy makers and nation builders as they can proceed with such projects in con dence that the complements of nancial markets will work themselves out. Infrastructureinvestment can then also help with convergence of regions with less developed nancialmarkets towards regions at the frontier. On the other hand, if a baseline level of nancialdevelopment is necessary for growth, then the e ects of such spending will be uneven.Moreover, a lack of attention to prior nancial development could lead to a divergence1Although existing literature emphasizes the importance of access to nance on rm-level investmentit does not intersect with studies on investments in infrastructure (e.g., Chandra and Thompson, 2000;Duranton and Turner, 2011; Banerjee et al., 2012).1

between regions that are above a threshold level of nancial development compared tothose that are not.A key empirical challenge in addressing this questions is that large-scale infrastructure investment is typically endogenous, making it extremely di cult to causally identifywhether a strong nancial market needs to be in place rst or whether nancial development appropriately mirrors and develops alongside major investment e orts. We studythis question using India’s Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) highways investment as naturalexperiment, examining the spatial development of banking at the district level before andafter. The GQ network connects the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, andKolkata and is the fth-longest highway in the world. Conceived in 1999, the GQ upgrades began in 2001, with a target completion date of 2004, and 95% of the work wascompleted by the end of 2006.Several studies have subsequently documented the importance of the GQ upgradesfor Indian manufacturing development along the highway system but have not focusedon the role of nance.2 This project connects the GQ work to the nancial sector andmakes two main contributions: First, we use comprehensive and detailed data on banklending across India over an extended period of time, drawn from the Reserve Bank ofIndia. This database gives us detailed information on each outstanding loan above asmall threshold, reported annually by every branch of every scheduled commercial bankin India. We have invested substantially over this project in accessing and preparingthese data. They constitute a major new tool for the economic and nancial developmentand growth literatures. Second, the context of the GQ infrastructure project allows usto generate strong causal results of the relationship between infrastructure investmentand local nancial development, using straight line IV analyses and comparing results tothe planned, but not completed NS-EW corridor. To understand the interaction betweeninfrastructure and nance, we examine how the results vary based on the pre-existing nancial development of districts adjacent to the highway. This allows us to speak directly2Using a very short time window, Datta (2011) nds almost immediate evidence of improved inventorye ciency and input sourcing for businesses situated along the GQ network. Ghani et al. (2016, 2017)demonstrate greater formal sector manufacturing growth and entrepreneurship in districts located withinten kilometers from the GQ network compared to those farther away. They further highlight urban-ruraldi erences, changes in allocative e ciency, and causal assessments. In total organized manufacturingoutput increased by 15%-20% due to the highway system. Khanna (2014) examines changes in nighttime luminosity around the GQ upgrades, nding evidence for a spreading-out of economic development.2

to the question of whether nancial development was necessary for the real e ects to bemanifested.We nd a strong response in lending activity in districts adjacent to the GQ highwaynetwork, manifested in terms of both loan counts and larger loan sizes. Our results arestrongest in districts where there was new construction (as opposed to upgrades) and dynamic speci cations support the e ect taking hold shortly after construction. Moreover,our results hold in straight-line IV frameworks and are also not present in ‘placebo tests’with a second highway that was planned to be upgraded at the same time as GQ butsubsequently delayed. Our results point to bank lending responding to the increase inreal activity that arose from improved transportation infrastructure. Importantly, however, we nd our results are entirely concentrated in regions with strong initial nancialdevelopment. Lending activity did not increase and in some speci cations is seen to fallslightly in regions with initially low nancial development, suggesting that while nanceresponded to help support increased real activity, the level of nancial development playeda critical role in determining where real economic activity grew. These results suggestthat the initial level of nancial development might be critical in shaping how (and where)infrastructure investment can jumpstart real economic activity.Our study is the rst to connect micro-level nancial development with plausiblyexogenous infrastructure development. This is not possible for the United States, wheremost research has traditionally focused, due to the older nature of the Eisenhower highwaysystem. The later timing of the Indian investment and better collection of nancial dataover recent decades provide unprecedented platforms. Moreover, prior work mostly identi es how the existence of transportation networks impacts activity, but we can quantifythe impact from investments into improving road networks compared to placebo networksthat are not enhanced. This provides powerful empirical identi cation, and the comparisons are informative for the economic impact of road upgrade investments, which arevery large and growing.3This project also contributes to important questions facing India as it seeks to build3Through 2006 and including the GQ upgrades, India invested USD 71 billion for the National Highways Development Program to upgrade, rehabilitate, and widen India’s major highways to internationalstandards. A recent Committee on Estimates report for the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highwayssuggests an ongoing investment need for Indian highways of about USD 15 billion annually for the next15 to 20 years (The Economic Times, April 29, 2012).3

the infrastructure, ranging from highways to ports to cities to broadband, required toenable its continued growth and modernization. Beyond India, several recent studies ndmixed evidence regarding economic e ects for non-targeted locations due to transportationinfrastructure in China or other developing economies.4 These studies complement thelarger literature on the United States and those undertaken in historical settings.5Related literatures consider non-transportation infrastructure investments in developing economies (e.g., Du‡o and Pande, 2007; Dinkelman, 2011) and the returns to publiccapital investment (e.g., Aschauer, 1989; Munell, 1990; Otto and Voss, 1994). Severalstudies evaluate the performance of Indian manufacturing, especially after the liberalization reforms (e.g., Ahluwalia, 2000; Besley and Burgess, 2004; Kochhar et al., 2006).Some authors argue that Indian manufacturing has been constrained by inadequate infrastructure and that industries that are dependent upon infrastructure have not beenable to reap the maximum bene ts of the liberalization’s reforms (e.g., Mitra et al., 1998;Gupta et al., 2008; Gupta and Kumar, 2010).India’s Highways and the GQ Project62Road transportation accounts for 65% of freight movement and 80% of passenger tra cin India. National highways constitute about 1.7% of this road network, carrying morethan 40% of the total tra c volume.7 To meet its transportation needs, India launchedits National Highways Development Project (NHDP) in 2001. This project, the largesthighway project ever undertaken by India, aimed at improving the GQ network, theNorth-South and East-West (NS-EW) Corridors, Port Connectivity, and other projectsin several phases. The total length of national highways planned to be upgraded (i.e.,4For example, Brown et al. (2008), Ulimwengu et al. (2009), Baum-Snow et al. (2012), Banerjee et al.(2012), Roberts et al. (2012), Baum-Snow and Turner (2013), Faber (2014), Xu and Nakajima (2017),Qin (2017), and Aggarwal (2018).5For example, Fernald (1998), Chandra and Thompson (2000), Lahr et al. (2005), Baum-Snow (2007),Michaels (2008), Holl and Viladecans-Marsal (2011), Hsu and Zhang (2014), Duranton and Turner (2012),Fretz and Gorgas (2013), Holl (2013), Duranton et al. (2014), Donaldson and Hornbeck (2016), andDonaldson (2018).6The rst part of this section is taken from Ghani et al. (2016).7Source: National Highway Authority of India website: http://www.nhai.org/. The Committee onInfrastructure continues to project that the growth in demand for road transport in India will be 1.5-2times faster than that for other modes. Available at: http://www.infrastructure.gov.in. By comparison,highways constitute 5% of the road network in Brazil, Japan, and the United States and 13% in Koreaand the United Kingdom (World Road Statistics, 2009).4

strengthened and expanded to four lanes) under the NHDP was 13,494 km; the NHDP alsosou

This project connects the GQ work to the –nancial sector and makes two main contributions: First, we use comprehensive and detailed data on bank lending across India over an extended period of time, drawn from the Reserve Bank of India. This database gives us detailed information on each outstanding loan above a

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