The permanent effects of transportation revolutions in poor countries: evidence from Africa

Jedwab, Remi and Moradi, Alexander (2016) The permanent effects of transportation revolutions in poor countries: evidence from Africa. Review of Economics and Statistics, 98 (2). pp. 268-284. ISSN 0034-6535

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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.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD0072 Economic development. Development economics. Economic growth
Depositing User: Alexander Moradi
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2015 17:03
Last Modified: 23 May 2016 10:42
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/52742
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