Did Cheaper Flights Change the Geography of Scientific Collaboration?
30 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2016 Last revised: 8 Jan 2018
Date Written: September 10, 2016
We test how a reduction in travel cost affects the rate and direction of scientific research. Using a fine-grained, scientist-level dataset within chemistry (1991-2012), we find that after Southwest Airlines enters a new route, scientific collaboration increases by 50%, an effect that is magnified when weighting output by quality. The benefits from the lower fares, however, are not uniform across scientist types: younger scientists and scientists that are more productive than their local peers respond the most. Thus, cheaper flights, by reducing frictions otherwise induced by geography and allowing for additional face-to-face interactions, seem to enable better matches over distance.
Keywords: scientific collaboration, air travel, temporary co-location, face-to-face meetings
JEL Classification: 03, R4, L93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation