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Railroads of the Raj: Estimating the Impact of Transportation Infrastructure

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  • Dave Donaldson

Abstract

How large are the benefits of transportation infrastructure projects, and what explains these benefits? This paper uses archival data from colonial India to investigate the impact of India's vast railroad network. Guided by four results from a general equilibrium trade model, I find that railroads: (1) decreased trade costs and interregional price gaps; (2) increased interregional and international trade; (3) increased real income levels; and (4) that a sufficient statistic for the effect of railroads on welfare in the model accounts well for the observed reduced-form impact of railroads on real income in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Dave Donaldson, 2018. "Railroads of the Raj: Estimating the Impact of Transportation Infrastructure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(4-5), pages 899-934, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:108:y:2018:i:4-5:p:899-934
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20101199
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mayer, Thierry & Zignago, Soledad, 2006. "Notes on CEPII’s distances measures," MPRA Paper 26469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning

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