Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Lund Papers in Economic History,
Lund University, Department of Economic History

No 132: Locomotives of Local Growth: The Short- and Long-Term Impact of Railroads in Sweden

Thor Berger () and Kerstin Enflo ()
Additional contact information
Thor Berger: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Kerstin Enflo: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economic History, Lund University, Box 7083, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of railroads on town-level growth in Sweden over 150 years. Our analysis builds on the fact that railroads historically were extended quasi-randomly across towns. Towns that gained access to a rail connection grew larger relative to other towns, with large negative spillovers on unconnected nearby towns. Over the 20th century, we find little adjustment to the initial shock in town populations, despite a sharp reversal in relative connectivity. Evidence on historical investments and present-day factors is consistent with this temporary shock giving rise to path dependence in the location of economic activity.

Keywords: Transport Infrastructure; Urban Growth; Path Dependence

JEL-codes: N73; N93; R12; R40

47 pages, March 14, 2014

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