Date of Thesis



Investing in transport infrastructures such as roadways, airports and seaports has proven to improve a country's trade performance through reduction of transportation costs and providing access to production and market. This research investigates the diminishing return of infrastructure investment and also the rate of return of two types of infrastructure investment strategies on trade. An augmented gravity model is used with econometric analysis methods in this study. The results have shown that as roadway and airport densities increase, the marginal returns on trade decrease. Empirical evidence from the United States and China with all their trading partners from the past twenty years has also suggested existence of diminishing return of infrastructure investment on roadways and airports. Infrastructure investment strategy that focuses on increasing roadway and airport density experiences smaller diminishing return on trade. In contrast, seaport investment that focuses on port quality and efficiency generates higher return on trade. A trade benefiting infrastructure investment strategy that best utilizes financial resources must balance between quality and quantity based on a country's current level of infrastructure asset.


international trade, infrastructure investment, marginal return, US China, Gravity Model, Econometric, highway, roadway, airport, seaport, infrastructure, diminishing return, bilateral trade, marginal return, rate of return, developing country, trade promotion, trade policy

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Xiaolong Li