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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper
From Periphery to Core: Measuring Agglomeration Effects Using High-Speed Rail
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt and Arne Feddersen
March 2015
Paper No' SERCDP0172:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: R12; R28; R38; R48

Tags: accessibility; agglomeration; high-speed rail; market potential; transport policy

We analyze the economic impact of the German high-speed rail (HSR) connecting Cologne and Frankfurt, which provides plausibly exogenous variation in access to surrounding economic mass. We find a causal effect of about 8.5% on average of the HSR on the GDP of three counties with intermediate stops. We make further use of the variation in bilateral transport costs between all counties in our study area induced by the HSR to identify the strength and spatial scope of agglomeration forces. Our most careful estimate points to an elasticity of output with respect to market potential of 12.5%. The strength of the spillover declines by 50% ever 30 minutes of travel time, diminishing to 1% after about 200 minutes. Our results further imply an elasticity of per-worker output with respect to economic density of 3.8%, although the effects seem driven by worker and firm selection.

This paper has been published as:
'From periphery to core: measuring agglomeration effects using high-speed rail', Gabriel Ahlfeldt and Arne Feddersen, Journal of Economic Geography, Vol 18, Issue 2, March 2018