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Railroads and Rural Industrialization: evidence from a Historical Policy Experiment

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  • Berger, Thor

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of railroads on growth and structural transformation in 19th-century Sweden. To establish causality, the analysis exploits that the main state-owned lines of the network traversed rural communities that were not directly targeted by planners. Areas “accidentally” traversed by one of these trunk lines experienced substantially more rapid population growth and structural transformation over the next 50 years. These findings suggest that investments in transportation networks can spur industrial development and that the railroad is an important factor to account for Sweden’s rapid catch-up with the leading European industrializers.

Suggested Citation

  • Berger, Thor, 2019. "Railroads and Rural Industrialization: evidence from a Historical Policy Experiment," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:74:y:2019:i:c:s0014498318302080
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2019.06.002
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    3. Nicholas Sheard, 2022. "The Railway Gauge Muddle in Australia," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-327, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    4. Bogart, Dan & You, Xuesheng & Alvarez-Palau, Eduard J. & Satchell, Max & Shaw-Taylor, Leigh, 2022. "Railways, divergence, and structural change in 19th century England and Wales," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    5. Atack, Jeremy & Margo, Robert A. & Rhode, Paul W., 2022. "Industrialization and urbanization in nineteenth century America," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    6. Christian M{o}ller Dahl & Torben Johansen & Christian Vedel, 2024. "Breaking the HISCO Barrier: Automatic Occupational Standardization with OccCANINE," Papers 2402.13604, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2024.
    7. Chan, Jeff, 2022. "Farming output, concentration, and market access: Evidence from the 19th-century American railroad expansion," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C).
    8. Eric Melander, 2020. "Transportation Technology, Individual Mobility and Social Mobilisation," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 471, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    9. Garcia-López, Miquel-Àngel & Herranz-Loncán, Alfonso & Tassinari, Filippo & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2023. "Paving the way to modern growth: The Spanish Bourbon roads," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    10. Yulia Gruzina & Irina Firsova & Wadim Strielkowski, 2021. "Dynamics of Human Capital Development in Economic Development Cycles," Economies, MDPI, vol. 9(2), pages 1-18, May.
    11. Lindgren, Erik & Pettersson-Lidbom, Per & Tyrefors, Björn, 2021. "The Causal Effect of Transport Infrastructure: Evidence from a New Historical Database," Working Paper Series 1407, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    12. David Andersson & Thor Berger & Erik Prawitz, 2023. "Making a Market: Infrastructure, Integration, and the Rise of Innovation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 258-274, March.
    13. Berger, Thor & Prawitz, Erik, 2024. "Collaboration and connectivity: Historical evidence from patent records," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    14. Miquel-Àngel Garcia-López & Alfonso Herranz-Loncán & Filippo Tassinari & Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal, 2021. "Paving the way to modern growth. Evidence from Bourbon roads in Spain," Working Papers 0209, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Industrialization; Railroads; Structural transformation; Transport infrastructure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General

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