Did Cheaper Flights Change the Geography of Scientific Collaboration?

30 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2016 Last revised: 15 Sep 2016

Christian Catalini

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Christian Fons-Rosen

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Patrick Gaulé

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute)

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Date Written: September 10, 2016

Abstract

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

Catalini, Christian and Fons-Rosen, Christian and Gaulé, Patrick, Did Cheaper Flights Change the Geography of Scientific Collaboration? (September 10, 2016). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 5172-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2764219 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2764219

Christian Catalini (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-480
Cambridge, MA MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/faculty-and-research/faculty-directory/detail/?id=58777

Christian Fons-Rosen

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

Patrick Gaulé

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute) ( email )

P.O. Box 882
7 Politickych veznu
Prague 1, 111 21
Czech Republic

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