Economists Seek Cash Prize for Plan to Pay for Better U.K. Roads

The second-largest cash award in economics will go to the person who can figure out how best to reverse years of underinvestment in Britain’s roads.

The Wolfson Economics Prize, worth 250,000 pounds ($304,000) and the second-largest after the Nobel Prize, was announced on Thursday in London. Organizers called for papers on how to “pay for better, safer, more reliable roads.”

The government has hinted it may raise infrastructure spending when it gives its Autumn Statement on Nov. 23. Prime Minister Theresa May has already scrapped plans to squeeze government outlays to erase the budget deficit by 2020.

“We’re a crowded island and infrastructure development is inevitably contentious, but we shouldn’t be defeatist,” former Treasury official and Wolfson Prize Chairman John Kingman said. “Governments have often looked at ideas in this area, but they’ve never convinced themselves that they could be sold to the British people.”

Notable past winners of the Wolfson Prize include Roger Bootle at Capital Economics, who won in 2012 for proposing a contingency plan for the breakup the euro. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling is among the judges for next year’s prize, to be announced in July.

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