Train to Opportunity: the Effect of Infrastructure on Intergenerational Mobility

86 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2020

See all articles by Julián Costas-Fernández

Julián Costas-Fernández

University College London

José-Alberto Guerra

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Myra Mohnen

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics; University of Essex - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 18, 2020

Abstract

Can transport infrastructure promote intergenerational mobility? This paper estimates the causal impact of the railroad network on intergenerational occupation mobility in nineteenth century England and Wales. We create a new dataset of father and son pairs by linking individuals across the 100% censuses of 1851, 1881 and 1911. By geolocating individuals down to the street level, we measure access to the railroad network using the distance to the nearest train station. To address the non-random access to the railroad network, we create a hypothetical railway map based solely on geographic cost consideration. We find that sons who grew up one standard deviation (roughly 5 km) closer to the train station are 6 percentage points more likely to work in a different occupation than their father and 5 percentage points more likely to be upward mobile. Access to the railroad network benefitted families at the top and bottom of the occupational ranking. Through a decomposition exercise, we find that the majority of upward mobility is driven by improvements in local labour opportunities.

Keywords: intergenerational mobility, infrastructure, spatial mobility

JEL Classification: H54, J62, N13

Suggested Citation

Costas-Fernández, Julián and Guerra, José Alberto and Mohnen, Myra, Train to Opportunity: the Effect of Infrastructure on Intergenerational Mobility (December 18, 2020). Documento CEDE No. 48, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3751814 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3751814

Julián Costas-Fernández (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

José Alberto Guerra

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://jguerraforero.wixsite.com/joseaguerra

Myra Mohnen

University of Ottawa - Department of Economics ( email )

Social Sciences Building Room 9005
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

University of Essex - Department of Economics ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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