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Railroad expansion and entrepreneurship: evidence from Meiji Japan


  • John Tang


Railroads in Meiji Japan are credited with facilitating factor mobility as well as access to human and financial capital, but the impact on firms is unclear. Using a newly developed firm-level dataset and a difference-in-differences model that exploits the temporal and spatial variation of railroad expansion, I assess the relationship between railways and firm activity across Japan. Results indicate that railroad expansion corresponded with increased firm activity, particularly in manufacturing, although this effect is mitigated in less populous regions. These findings are consistent with industrial agglomeration in areas with larger markets and earlier development among both new and existing establishments.

Suggested Citation

  • John Tang, 2013. "Railroad expansion and entrepreneurship: evidence from Meiji Japan," CEH Discussion Papers 011, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tim Leunig, 2010. "Social Savings," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 775-800, December.
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    5. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Michael Haines & Robert A. Margo, 2009. "Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest, 1850-60," NBER Working Papers 14640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Marcus DEJARDIN, 2001. "Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth: An Obvious Conjunction?," Development and Comp Systems 0110010, EconWPA.
    7. Dave Donaldson, 2010. "Railroads of the Raj: Estimating the Impact of Transportation Infrastructure," NBER Working Papers 16487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:jed:journl:v:42:y:2017:i:3:p:1-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Rui Manuel Pereira, Alfredo Marvao Pereira and William J. Hausman, 2017. "Railroad Infrastructure Investments and Economic Development in the Antebellum United States," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 42(3), pages 1-16, September.
    3. KOYAMA, Mark & MORIGUCHI, Chiaki & SNG, Tuan-Hwee, 2017. "Geopolitics and Asia’s Little Divergence: State Building in China and Japan After 1850," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-51, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.

    More about this item


    agglomeration; entrepreneurship; firm genealogy; late development;

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East


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