China becoming the second-largest economy in the world didn’t happen by accident. It was decades of infrastructure investments in transport, digital, and sewer, and water infrastructure.
China’s thoughtful planning and ambitious infrastructure investments have paid off in terms of economic growth and productivity, something that the U.S. can learn from, according to the Barron article.
The article reports that between 1992 to 2011, China has invested 8.5% of its GDP per year in transportation and digital infrastructure.
During this period of massive investment, China has seen rapid national growth and has laid the foundation for what it has become now and into the future.
In contrast, the U.S. has some of the worst infrastructure among developed countries. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCEs) 2021 Report card gives the U.S. infrastructure an overall C grade.
Its digital infrastructure is lacking in rural areas, and drinking water in some areas contains dangerous amounts of lead.
Decades of Federal infrastructure underinvestment have created an infrastructure gap estimated by ASCE to be $2.6 trillion.
America’s poor state of its infrastructure is leading to its stagnation and lower growth. Because the U.S. uses its roads to transport 60% of its freight, repairing its roads can significantly boost its productivity.
For infrastructure investments to be sustainable, governments should also consider the environmental impacts and reduce carbon emissions from infrastructure.
Investments in infrastructure should also incorporate green principles into its design and climate-proof structures to withstand climate change impacts.
Infrastructure is indeed the fabric that holds any society, and economic growth is impossible without it.
But if economic growth and productivity depend on infrastructure, investments in infrastructure should be an ongoing activity and one that will require infrastructure management to ensure that infrastructure continues to provide its intended service and economic benefits.