80/2012 Erik Hornung
We study the effect of railroad access on urban population growth. Using GIS techniques, we match triennial population data for roughly 1000 cities in nineteenth-century Prussia to georeferenced maps of the German railroad network. We find positive short- and long-term effects of having a station on urban growth for different periods during 1840-1871. Causal effects of (potentially endogenous) railroad access on city growth are identified using instrumental-variable and fixed-effects estimation techniques. Our instrument identifies exogenous variation in railroad access by constructing straight-line corridors between terminal stations. Counterfactual models using pre-railroad growth yield no evidence in support of the hypothesis that railroads appeared as a consequence of a previous growth spurt.
Journal of the European Economic Association