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

Okoye, Dozie and Pongou, Roland and Yokossi, Tite (2016): On the Dispensability of New Transportation Technologies: Evidence from the Heterogeneous Impact of Railroads in Nigeria.

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Abstract

Exploring heterogeneity in the impact of a technology is a first step towards understanding conditions under which this technology is conducive to economic development. This article shows that colonial railroads in Nigeria have 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 distance to ports of export. We highlight the fact that the railway had no impact in areas that had access to ports of export, thanks to their proximity to the coast and to their use of waterways, and that those areas barely adopted the railway as it did not reduce their shipping costs. Our analyses rule out the possibility that the heterogeneous impacts are driven by cohort effects, presence of major roads, early cities, or missionary activity, or by crude oil production.

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