Did Cheaper Flights Change the Direction of Science?

29 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2016

See all articles by Christian Catalini

Christian Catalini

Diem Association and Diem Networks US; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Christian Fons-Rosen

University of California, Merced

Patrick Gaule

University of Bath

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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: O3, R4, L93

Suggested Citation

Catalini, Christian and Fons-Rosen, Christian and Gaule, Patrick, Did Cheaper Flights Change the Direction of Science?. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2769205 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2769205

Christian Catalini (Contact Author)

Diem Association and Diem Networks US ( email )

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

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Christian Fons-Rosen

University of California, Merced ( email )

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Merced, CA 95344
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Patrick Gaule

University of Bath ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

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