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Agglomeration and Emigration: Railways, Market Access and Development

negative immigration

  • Researchers:
    • Ronan C Lyons (TCD) and Alan Fernihough (Queens University Belfast)

  • Partners:
    • N/A


  • Location:
    • Ireland

  • Sample:
    • Approximately 3,500 Census districts in Ireland

  • Timeline:
    • 1841 - 1911

  • Theme:
    • Political Economy, Urban and Migration

  • Description:
    • This study assesses the economic impact of transportation infrastructure on market access within a resource-limited, small, open economy. Utilising Irish data from 1851 to 1911, during which Ireland saw significant railway expansion, we examine how enhanced connectivity affects both domestic and international market access. The analysis reveals that while domestic market integration via railways led to population increases and higher land values, improved access to global markets had a counteracting influence. Specifically, it facilitated emigration and reduced labour-intensive agricultural exports, diluting the domestic agglomeration benefits. These findings indicate that the economic dividends of market access through transport infrastructure are not a given, providing a cautionary tale for similar modern economies considering infrastructure development as a path to economic growth.