Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Railroads, Economic Development, and the Demographic Transition in the United States

Katz‬‏, ‪Ori (2018): Railroads, Economic Development, and the Demographic Transition in the United States.

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Abstract

This paper estimates the impact of railroads in the United States between 1850 and 1910 on economic development, fertility, and human capital. A novel identification strategy, which relies on a dynamic instrument, allows me to control for unobservables using county fixed effects. I find that railroads shifted the distribution of occupations and industries, had a large positive effect on human capital levels, and a large negative effect on fertility rates. Further analysis suggests that the impact of railroads was larger in counties that were initially more developed. I examine possible mechanisms that drive the effects and lead to this heterogeneity.

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