Railroad integration and uneven development on the European periphery, 1870-1910
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This study explores the relationship between railroad integration and regional development on the European periphery between 1870 and 1910, based on a regional dataset including 291 spatial units. Railroad integration is proxied by railroad density, while per capita GDP is used as an indicator of economic development. The period under study is of particular relevance as it has been associated with the second wave of railroad construction in Europe and also coincides with the industrialization of most of the continent. Overall, we found that railroads had a significant and positive impact on the growth of per capita GDP across Europe. The magnitude of this relationship appears to be relatively modest, but the results obtained are robust with respect to a number of different specifications. From a geographical perspective, we found that railroads had a significantly greater influence on regions located in countries on the northern periphery of Europe than in other outlying areas. They also helped the economies of these areas to begin the process of catching up with the continent's industrialized core. In contrast, the regions on the southern periphery showed lower levels of economic growth, with this exacerbating the pre-existing divergence in economic development. Furthermore, these phenomena were not only observed between states but also between, and even within, the regions of individual countries. The most northerly located countries began their networks by first connecting their main cities. After that, they expanded them outwards, and into their more rural, northern territories, in a process that facilitated the spread of development. In the states of southern Europe, on the other hand, the expansion of the railroad network was unable to homogenize the diffusion of economic development and, if anything, tended to further benefit the regions that were already industrialized. In all of the cases studied, the capital effect was magnified, and this contributed to the consolidation of newly created nation states.