International Society for Quantitative History

QH Webinar Series

Railways and Cities in India

16:00 | Thursday, September 16, 2021

Zoom Webinar


Jinlin Wei, PhD candidate from Warwick Department of Economics, will present his co-authored paper: “Railways and Cities in India”

Jinlin Wei of University of Warwick and his co-authors examine how railways affected urban population in India between 1881 and 1931. The construction of railways in India started in 1853 and there were already more than 40,000 miles of railways in India by 1931. The expansion of railways in India increased urban population in cities during this period.

In order to identify the causal impact of proximity to railways, they construct an instrumental variable based on least cost paths that connect pre-existing cities in India before railway construction started. The least cost paths were constructed based on terrain slopes between city pairs that have high market potential. Using changes over time in how proximity to these paths predict proximity to railways, they find that urban population in Indian cities increased as railways expanded, and cities achieved better access to railways.

To investigate the mechanisms that drive the increase in urban population, they construct measures of market access – a concept that links transportation costs to population. They find that city size increased in response to better access to railways, as cities had lower transportation costs to other cities and better market access after receiving railways. The effects are larger for initially small, isolated cities that did not have alternative transportation routes such as ports and rivers.

In this Quantitative History Webinar, Jinlin Wei explains how better access to railways increased urban populations via the channel of market access.

Jinlin's co-authors: James Fenske (Warwick) and Namrata Kala (MIT)

Live on Zoom on September 16, 2021
16:00 Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore
09:00 London | 13:30 New Delhi | 17:00 Tokyo | 18:00 Sydney

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Zoom Webinar


The Quantitative History (QH) Webinar Series aims to provide researchers, teachers, and students with an online intellectual platform to keep up to date with the latest research in the field, promoting the dissemination of research findings and interdisciplinary use of quantitative methods in historical research. The QH Webinar Series, now entering its fourth year, is co-organized by Centre for Quantitative History at the HKU Business School and International Society for Quantitative History in partnership with Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Series is now substantially supported by the Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. [AoE/B-704/22-R]). 量化歷史網上講座系列由香港大學陳志武和馬馳騁教授聯合發起,旨在介紹前沿量化歷史研究成果、促進同仁交流,推廣量化方法在歷史研究中的應用。本系列講座由香港大學經管學院量化歷史研究中心和國際量化歷史學會承辦,及香港人文社會研究所全力支持。從2023年開始,系列得到中國香港特別行政區研究資助局卓越學科領域計劃的重要資助 (項目編號[AoE/B-704/22-R])。

Conveners: Professor Zhiwu Chen & Dr. Chicheng Ma (HKU Business School)

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