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The Effect of Infrastructure on Worker Mobility: Evidence from High-Speed Rail Expansion in Germany

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  • Daniel F. Heuermann
  • Johannes F. Schmieder

Abstract

We use the expansion of the high-speed rail network in Germany as a natural experiment to examine the causal effect of reductions in commuting time between regions on the commuting decisions of workers and their choices regarding where to live and where to work. We exploit three key features in this setting: i) investment in high-speed rail has, in some cases dramatically, reduced travel times between regions, ii) several small towns were connected to the high-speed rail network only for political reasons, and iii) high-speed trains have left the transportation of goods unaffected. Combining novel information on train schedules and the opening of high-speed rail stations with panel data on all workers in Germany, we show that a reduction in travel time by one percent raises the number of commuters between regions by 0.25 percent. This effect is mainly driven by workers changing jobs to smaller cities while keeping their place of residence in larger ones. Our findings support the notion that benefits from infrastructure investments accrue in particular to peripheral regions, which gain access to a large pool of qualified workers with a preference for urban life. We find that the introduction of high-speed trains led to a modal shift towards rail transportation in particular on medium distances between 150 and 400 kilometers.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel F. Heuermann & Johannes F. Schmieder, 2018. "The Effect of Infrastructure on Worker Mobility: Evidence from High-Speed Rail Expansion in Germany," NBER Working Papers 24507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24507
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    Cited by:

    1. Yahong Liu & Daisheng Tang & Tao Bu & Xinyuan Wang, 2022. "The spatial employment effect of high-speed railway: quasi-natural experimental evidence from China," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 69(2), pages 333-359, October.
    2. Kong, Dongmin & Liu, Lihua & Yang, Zhiqing, 2021. "High-speed rails and rural-urban migrants’ wages," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1030-1042.
    3. Tang, Chenghui & Guan, Mingming & Dou, Jianmin, 2021. "Understanding the impact of High Speed Railway on urban innovation performance from the perspective of agglomeration externalities and network externalities," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    4. Michael J Böhm & Terry Gregory & Pamela Qendrai & Christian Siegel, 2021. "Demographic change and regional labour markets," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(1), pages 113-131.
    5. Baek, Jisun & Park, WooRam, 2022. "The impact of improved passenger transport system on manufacturing plant productivity," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    6. Chang, Zheng & Zheng, Longfei, 2022. "High-speed rail and the spatial pattern of new firm births: Evidence from China," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 373-386.
    7. Anna Gumpert & Henrike Steimer & Manfred Antoni, 2022. "Firm Organization with Multiple Establishments [“Organizing Offshoring: Middle Managers and Communication Costs]," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 137(2), pages 1091-1138.
    8. Olof Ejermo & Katrin Hussinger & Basheer Kalash & Torben Schubert, 2022. "Innovation in Malmö after the Öresund Bridge," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 5-20, January.
    9. Luisa Dörr & Stefanie Gäbler, 2020. "Does Highway Accessibility Influence Local Tax Factors? Evidence from German Municipalities," ifo Working Paper Series 321, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    10. Amior, Michael & Manning, Alan, 2019. "Commuting, migration and local joblessness," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 102745, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Shi, Wenming & Lin, Kun-Chin & McLaughlin, Heather & Qi, Guanqiu & Jin, Mengjie, 2020. "Spatial distribution of job opportunities in China: Evidence from the opening of the high-speed rail," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 138-147.
    12. David B Audretsch & Dirk Christian Dohse & João Pereira dos Santos, 0. "The effects of highway tolls on private business activity—results from a natural experiment," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(6), pages 1331-1357.
    13. Yaqi Hu & Yingzi Chen, 2022. "Coupling of Urban Economic Development and Transportation System: An Urban Agglomeration Case," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(7), pages 1-17, March.
    14. Pařil Vilém & Viturka Milan, 2020. "Assessment of Priorities of Construction of High-Speed Rail in the Czech Republic in Terms of Impacts on Internal and External Integration," Review of Economic Perspectives, Sciendo, vol. 20(2), pages 217-241, June.
    15. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/7ell01j45s8loqtvgom5ci9i3h is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Bütikofer, Aline & Løken, Katrine V. & Willen, Alexander, 2019. "Building Bridges and Widening Gaps: Efficiency Gains and Equity Concerns of Labor Market Expansions," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 19/2019, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    17. Wang, Jiating & Cai, Siyuan, 2020. "The construction of high-speed railway and urban innovation capacity: Based on the perspective of knowledge Spillover," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    18. Bütikofer, Aline & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Willén, Alexander, 2020. "Building Bridges and Widening Gaps: Wage Gains and Equity Concerns of Labor Market Expansions," IZA Discussion Papers 12885, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Schnabel, Isabel & Truger, Achim & Wieland, Volker, 2019. "Den Strukturwandel meistern. Jahresgutachten 2019/20," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201920.
    20. Liansheng Zheng & Juncheng Li & Zhihua Zhao, 2022. "High‐Speed Rail Service and the Issuance of Municipal Corporate Bonds," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 30(4), pages 230-254, July.
    21. Jin, Mengjie & Lin, Kun-Chin & Shi, Wenming & Lee, Paul T.W. & Li, Kevin X., 2020. "Impacts of high-speed railways on economic growth and disparity in China," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 158-171.
    22. Cobos, Carlos & Escribano, Álvaro, 2022. "High-Speed Rail: a panel data impact evaluation by Municipalities on depopulation and unemployment," UC3M Working papers. Economics 35284, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General

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