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Railways, Growth, and Industrialisation in a Developing German Economy, 1829-1910

Braun, Sebastian Till and Franke, Richard (2019): Railways, Growth, and Industrialisation in a Developing German Economy, 1829-1910.

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Abstract

This paper provides a comprehensive assessment of the effect of railways on the spatial economic development of a German economy, the Kingdom of Württemberg, during the Industrial Revolution. Our identification strategy compares the economic development of `winning' municipalities that were connected to the railway in 1845-54 to the development of `losing' municipalities that were the runners-up choice for a given railway line between two major towns. Estimates from both differences-in-differences and inverse-probability-weighted models suggest that railway access increased annual population growth by 0.4 percentage points over more than half a century. Railways also increased wages, income and housing values, in line with predictions of economic geography models of transport infrastructure improvements, reduced the gender wage gap, and accelerated the transition away from agriculture. We find little evidence that these effects are driven by localised displacement effects.

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