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Infrastructure Planning & Economics

Research on Infrastructure Planning & Economics

Infrastructure consists of the natural and humanly devised systems relied upon for energy, water, waste, transportation, health, education, and information.

The vast expense of urban infrastructure gives it a pivotal role in the economics of cities and regions. The industrial structure and economic organization of infrastructure systems, owned and operated by large public and private organizations, are suited to transaction cost economic analysis and the greater framework of institutional economics in which it resides, with concern for consumers, less than perfect competition, antitrust, and market externalities.

Planning can be understood for its role in the design and development of infrastructure and, more critically, economizing on transaction costs, empirically-based governance, the redistributional qualities of infrastructure, and internalizing externalities. The planning of infrastructure investment is a critical component of the budget cycle of governments, and of lasting importance for the portfolios of private firms.

Prof. Whittington, a former student of Economic Nobel Laureate Oliver Williamson, applies transaction cost economics to examine infrastructure efficiency and effectiveness, and recommend policy changes and decision-making methodologies for planning, developing, and governing infrastructure.

Recent Publications

Whittington, Jan and Molly Riddle. “The Alaskan Way Viaduct of Seattle” (in progress)

Jesse Woo, Jan Whittington, and Ronald Arkin. “Urban robots: Achieving autonomy in design and regulation of robots and cities” Connecticut Law Review, Volume 52, 2020, pp. 319-415. Author’s copy:

Whittington, Jan. “Capital Planning for High-Impact Earthquakes: Invest to Withstand the Test of Time” Washington Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, Vol. 7, Issue 2 (July 2017), pp. 444-454. HeinOnline,

Whittington, Jan. “Remembering the Public in the Race to become Smart Cities.” UMKC Law Review, Vol. 85, Issue 4 (Summer 2017), pp. 925-930. HeinOnline,

Whittington, Jan and Catherine Lynch. 2015. “Climate-informed decisions: the capital investment plan as a mechanism for lowering carbon emissions” Policy Research Working Paper Series; no. WPS 7381. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group. 34 pp.

Hill, Michele, and Kristen Gelino, Lydia Fulton, Stefanie Young, Jan Whittington. “Solar in the Rainy City.” Planning the Pacific Northwest. Ed. Sterrett, Jill, et al. Chicago, IL: APA Planners Press, 2015. Pages 313-319. Print.

Whittington, Jan and Stefanie Young. “Lights on or off? Hydropower in a Changing Climate.” Planning the Pacific Northwest. Ed. Sterrett, Jill, et al. Chicago, IL: APA Planners Press, 2015. Pages 249-257. Print.

Vitro, Kristen and Jan Whittington. “The Cloud beneath the Clouds”, Planning the Pacific Northwest. Ed. Sterrett, Jill, et al. Chicago, IL: APA Planners Press, 2015. Pages 175-177. Print.

Sterrett, Jill, Dennis Ryan, Connie Ozawa, Ethan Seltzer, and Jan Whittington, editors. Planning the Pacific Northwest. Chicago, IL: APA Planners Press, 2015. Print. ISBN: 978-1-61190-128-3. 370 pages.

Whittington, Jan and Stefanie Young. “Resilience through Transaction Cost Economic Evaluation: Recognizing the Cost-Effectiveness of Sustainable Development.” Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society (S.A.P.I.EN.S), vol. 6, no. 1, 2013. OpenEdition: Ressources électroniques et communication scientifique,

Armbruster, Ginger and Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Jan Whittington. “Threats to Municipal Information Systems posed by Aging Infrastructure.” International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, vol. 6, no. 3-4, 2013, pp. 123-131. ScienceDirect,

Whittington, Jan. “When to Partner for Public Infrastructure? Transaction Cost Evaluation of Design-Build Delivery.” Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 78, no. 3, 2012, pp. 269-285. Taylor & Francis Online,

Dowall, David and Jan Whittington. Making Room for the Future: Rebuilding California’s Infrastructure. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California, 2003. Print. ISBN: 1-58213-045-0. 223 pages.

Neuman, Michael and Jan Whittington. Building California’s Future: Current Conditions in Infrastructure Planning, Budgeting and Financing. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California, 2000. ISBN: 1-58213-024-8. Print. 107 pages.