IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/auu/hpaper/031.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Permanent Effects of Transportation Revolutions in Poor Countries: Evidence from Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Remi Jedwab
  • Alexander Moradi

Abstract

We exploit the construction and eventual demise of the colonial railroads in Africa to study the impact of transportation investments in poor countries. Using Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, we assembled new data on railroads and cities spanning over one century to show that: (i) Railroads had large effects on the spatial distribution and aggregate level of economic activity during the colonial period, as they constituted a transportation revolution in a context where no modern transportation technology previously existed. (ii) These effects have persisted to date, although railroads collapsed and road networks expanded considerably in the post-independence period. The analysis contributes to our understanding of the heterogeneous impact of transportation investments. It shows that initial investments may have a large effect in poor countries with basic infrastructure. As the countries develop, increasing returns may then solidify their spatial distribution, and subsequent investments may have a smaller effect on local economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Remi Jedwab & Alexander Moradi, 2015. "The Permanent Effects of Transportation Revolutions in Poor Countries: Evidence from Africa," CEH Discussion Papers 031, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:031
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/CEH/WP201501.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    2. Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2011. "History and Industry Location: Evidence from German Airports," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 814-831, August.
    3. Bosker, Maarten & Brakman, Steven & Garretsen, Harry & Schramm, Marc, 2007. "Looking for multiple equilibria when geography matters: German city growth and the WWII shock," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 152-169, January.
    4. Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "A Search For Multiple Equilibria In Urban Industrial Structure," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 29-65, February.
    5. Gareth Austin, 2008. "Resources, techniques, and strategies south of the Sahara: revising the factor endowments perspective on African economic development, 1500–20001," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(3), pages 587-624, August.
    6. Douglas Gollin & Remi Jedwab & Dietrich Vollrath, 2016. "Urbanization with and without industrialization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 35-70, March.
    7. Ferdinand Rauch & Guy Michaels, 2013. "Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012," Economics Series Working Papers 684, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    8. Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Trade on the Demand for Skill: Evidence from the Interstate Highway System," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 683-701, November.
    9. Redding, Stephen & Fajgelbaum, Pablo, 2014. "External Integration, Structural Transformation and Economic Development: Evidence from Argentina 1870-1914," CEPR Discussion Papers 10026, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Fajgelbaum, Pablo & Redding, Stephen, 2014. "External integration, structural transformation and economic development: evidence from Argentina," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60285, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Ken Gwilliam, 2011. "Africa's Transport Infrastructure : Mainstreaming Maintenance and Management," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 2275, December.
    12. Gilles Duranton & Peter M. Morrow & Matthew A. Turner, 2014. "Roads and Trade: Evidence from the US," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 81(2), pages 681-724.
    13. Austin, Gareth, 2008. "Resources, techniques and strategies south of the Sahara: revising the factor endowments perspective on African economic development, 1500-2000," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 23209, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    15. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2013. "Pre‐Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(1), pages 113-152, January.
    16. Benjamin Faber, 2014. "Trade Integration, Market Size, and Industrialization: Evidence from China's National Trunk Highway System," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 81(3), pages 1046-1070.
    17. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther & Qian, Nancy, 2020. "On the road: Access to transportation infrastructure and economic growth in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    18. Chandra, Amitabh & Thompson, Eric, 2000. "Does public infrastructure affect economic activity?: Evidence from the rural interstate highway system," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 457-490, July.
    19. Paul Krugman, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 106(2), pages 651-667.
    20. Austin, Gareth, 2007. "Labour and land in Ghana, 1874-1939: a shifting ratio and an institutional revolution," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4392, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    21. Melissa Dell, 2010. "The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1863-1903, November.
    22. Dan Bogart, 2009. "Turnpike trusts and property income: new evidence on the effects of transport improvements and legislation in eighteenth‐century England1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(1), pages 128-152, February.
    23. Jeremy Atack & Robert A. Margo, 2009. "Agricultural Improvements and Access to Rail Transportation: The American Midwest as a Test Case, 1850-1860," NBER Working Papers 15520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Miguel, Edward & Roland, Gérard, 2011. "The long-run impact of bombing Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 1-15, September.
    25. Ejaz Ghani & Arti Grover Goswami & William R. Kerr, 2016. "Highway to Success: The Impact of the Golden Quadrilateral Project for the Location and Performance of Indian Manufacturing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(591), pages 317-357, March.
    26. Gareth Austin, 2007. "Labour And Land In Ghana, 1874–1939: A Shifting Ratio And An Institutional Revolution," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 47(1), pages 95-120, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Hanlon, W.Walker & Heblich, Stephan, 2022. "History and urban economics," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    2. Redding, Stephen J. & Turner, Matthew A., 2015. "Transportation Costs and the Spatial Organization of Economic Activity," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1339-1398, Elsevier.
    3. Stephen J. Redding, 2020. "Trade and Geography," NBER Working Papers 27821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rémi Jedwab & Adam Storeygard, 2022. "The Average and Heterogeneous Effects of Transportation Investments: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa 1960–2010," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 1-38.
    5. Stephen J. Redding & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2017. "Quantitative Spatial Economics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 9(1), pages 21-58, September.
    6. Jean-François Maystadt & Gilles Duranton, 2019. "The development push of refugees: evidence from Tanzania," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 299-334.
    7. Jean-Francois Maystadt & Gilles Duranton, 2014. "The development push of refugees," Working Papers 66910685, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    8. Seiffert, Sebastian, 2019. "Go east: On the impact of the Transiberian Railway on economic development in Eastern Russia," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 02-2019, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    9. Jeffrey Lin, 2015. "The puzzling persistence of place," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q2, pages 1-8.
    10. Junichi Yamasaki, 2017. "Railroads, Technology Adoption, and Modern Economic Development: Evidence from Japan," ISER Discussion Paper 1000, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    11. Gibbons, Stephen & Lyytikäinen, Teemu & Overman, Henry G. & Sanchis-Guarner, Rosa, 2019. "New road infrastructure: The effects on firms," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 35-50.
    12. repec:esx:essedp:729 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Breinlich, Holger & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2014. "Regional Growth and Regional Decline," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 683-779, Elsevier.
    14. Holl, Adelheid, 2016. "Highways and productivity in manufacturing firms," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 131-151.
    15. Leonardo M. Klüppel & Lamar Pierce & Jason A. Snyder, 2018. "Perspective—The Deep Historical Roots of Organization and Strategy: Traumatic Shocks, Culture, and Institutions," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 702-721, August.
    16. Berger, Thor & Enflo, Kerstin, 2017. "Locomotives of local growth: The short- and long-term impact of railroads in Sweden," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 124-138.
    17. Taylor Jaworski & Carl T. Kitchens, 2019. "National Policy for Regional Development: Historical Evidence from Appalachian Highways," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(5), pages 777-790, December.
    18. V. Licio, 2019. "When history leaves a mark: a new measure of Roman roads," Working Paper CRENoS 201904, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    19. Okamoto, Chigusa & Sato, Yasuhiro, 2021. "Impacts of high-speed rail construction on land prices in urban agglomerations: Evidence from Kyushu in Japan," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    20. He, Guojun & Xie, Yang & Zhang, Bing, 2020. "Expressways, GDP, and the environment: The case of China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    21. Nunn, Nathan, 2014. "Historical Development," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 347-402, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Transportation; Railroads; Development; Cities; Path Dependence; Roads;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • N97 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Africa; Oceania

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:031. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/chanuau.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.