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Transportation Infrastructure and Development in Ghana


  • Rémi Jedwab

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Alexandre Moradi

    (University of Sussex)


We study the impact of transportation infrastructure on agriculture and development in colonial Ghana. Two railway lines were built between 1901 and 1923 to connect the coast to mining areas and the large hinterland city of Kumasi. This unintendedly opened vast expanses of tropical forest to cocoa cultivation, allowing Ghana to become the world's largest producer. This attracted migrants to producing areas and the economic surplus drove urbanization. Using data at a very fine spatial level, we find a strong effect of railroad connectivity on cocoa production due to reduced transportation costs. We then show that the economic boom in cocoa-producing areas was associated with demographic growth and urbanization. We _nd no spurious effect from lines that were not built yet, and lines that were planned but never built. We show that our results are robust to considering nearest neighbor estimators. Lastly, railway construction has durably transformed the economic geography of Ghana, as railway districts are more developed today, despite thirty years of marked decline in rail transportation.

Suggested Citation

  • Rémi Jedwab & Alexandre Moradi, 2011. "Transportation Infrastructure and Development in Ghana," PSE Working Papers halshs-00607207, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00607207
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chiara Cazzuffi & Alexander Moradi, 2010. "Why do cooperatives fail? Big versus small in Ghanaian Cocoa Producers' Societies, 1930-36," Working Paper Series 0110, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Four lessons from railways in Ghana
      by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2012-11-28 01:29:39
    2. High-speed rail in South Africa: too costly to consider
      by Johan Fourie in Johan Fourie's Blog on 2013-06-02 12:57:55


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    Cited by:

    1. Kazianga, Harounan & Masters, William A. & McMillan, Margaret S., 2014. "Disease control, demographic change and institutional development in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 313-326.
    2. repec:nbr:nberch:13373 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Margaret S. McMillan & William A. Masters & Harounan Kazianga, 2011. "Rural Demography, Public Services and Land Rights in Africa: A Village-Level Analysis in Burkina Faso," NBER Working Papers 17718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Eric Strobl & Marie-Anne Valfort, 2015. "The Effect of Weather-Induced Internal Migration on Local Labor Markets. Evidence from Uganda," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 385-412.
    5. 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.
    6. Margaret S. McMillan & William A. Masters & Harounan Kazianga, 2014. "Demographic Pressure and Institutional Change: Village-Level Response to Rural Population Growth in Burkina Faso," NBER Chapters,in: African Successes, Volume I: Government and Institutions, pages 103-143 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. repec:ipg:wpaper:2014-460 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Morten Jerven, 2014. "A West African experiment: constructing a GDP series for colonial Ghana, 1891–1950," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(4), pages 964-992, November.
    9. Leander Heldring & James A. Robinson, 2012. "Colonialism and Economic Development in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    Railroads; Trade Costs; Urbanization; Africa;

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