Economic Effects of Investment Grants for Water and Sewerage Infrastructure – The Case of Saxony
The article deals with the regional economic growth effects of the German “Joint Scheme” for the improvement of regional economic structures (“GA-Infra”). It focuses on water and sewerage projects located in the federal state of Saxony (Germany) during the funding period 2000-2007. Evaluating these projects is important for scientific as well as for economic policy reasons. First of all, according to general economic theory, the potential direct and indirect supply-side effects of the water and sewerage infrastructure as well as the price effects caused by this infrastructure are relevant for location decisions only to certain branches of the manufacturing industry. Subsidies for the development of the sewerage infrastructure have been granted mostly according to the growth target of regional policy, i.e. primarily to municipalities with above-average volumes of industry sewage. This finding could not be confirmed for water provision. A regression analysis (estimating the labour demand of the local manufacturing industry) showed no empirical evidence for any relationship between the changes in labour demand and the amount of GA-Infra funded water and sewerage infrastructure investments. This might be a consequence of the already satisfactory development condition of the infrastructure in question at the beginning of the funding period (“ubiquitous infrastructure”). According to a survey of local governments conducted by the IWH, these results might be explained by the fact that business customers did not benefit from price reductions despite the GA-Infra funding granted to their local water and sewage disposal providers. Even though there might be some intuitively plausible reasons (decreasing population, no connection fees) for these findings, no effect on firm location decisions can be expected under these circumstances. All in all, we do not consider the further extension of these funding priorities to be necessary. Especially, the GA-Infra water/sewerage grants should neither be used to mitigate the cost effects of demographic changes or regulation nor to compensate for losses caused by the buyer power of large firms.