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On the Dispensability of New Transportation Technologies: Evidence from Colonial Railroads in Nigeria

Author

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  • Okoye, Dozie
  • Pongou, Roland
  • Yokossi, Tite

Abstract

We examine Fogel's influential hypothesis that new transportation technologies may be dispensable if pre-existing technologies are viable or can simply be improved. Exploiting the construction of colonial railroads in Nigeria, we find that the railway has large long-lasting impacts on individual and local development in the North, but virtually no impact in the South neither in the short run nor in the long run. This heterogeneous impact of the railway can be accounted for by the level of pre-railway access to ports of export. Consistent with Fogel's argument, the railway did not transform areas that had viable transportation alternatives for exporting purposes. Using information on changes in shipping costs and quantities, we highlight the importance of opportunity costs to the adoption and impact of new transportation investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland & Yokossi, Tite, 2016. "On the Dispensability of New Transportation Technologies: Evidence from Colonial Railroads in Nigeria," MPRA Paper 75262, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:75262
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    1. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
    2. Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland, 2015. "Sea Change: The Competing Long-Run Impacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Missionary Activity in Africa," MPRA Paper 66221, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fogel's Hypothesis; Colonial Investments; Railway; Africa; Development; Nigeria;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services
    • N77 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N9 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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