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Exploring the Influence of Colonial Railways on Java's Economic Geography

Brata, Aloysius Gunadi (2017): Exploring the Influence of Colonial Railways on Java's Economic Geography.

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Abstract

This study explores the impact on Java’s economic geography of railways built by the Dutch colonial government. Pre-1940 Dutch railway construction affords an historical experiment on the spatial distribution of economic activities across urban Java both before and after 1940. Using city data for over 100 years, the study finds that the railways had a short-term impact on the distribution of population, but that in the long run colonial railway investment lost its advantages. Until 1930, the railways substituted for the Great Mail Road. Between 1930 and 2010, however, the Great Mail Road regained an earlier importance in shaping urban Javanese patterns. The study also draws important lessons for recent Indonesian infrastructure development in Indonesia, notably in regard to the railway system itself.

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