This paper studies the distributional effects of a major transport infrastructure project, the construction of the US Interstate Highway System. Using data from 1950 to 2000, I first provide reduced-form evidence of the impact of interstate highways on the location choices of heterogeneous workers. In order to address the endogeneity of road placement, I adopt an instrumental variable approach that exploits an initial plan of the network and nationwide construction patterns. I find that a city's share of college-educated residents increased by 0.6 percentage points with each additional highway. I then measure the associated welfare effects using a quantitative spatial model in which heterogeneous migration patterns are driven by differences in migration costs across skill groups. Counterfactual experiments show that a hypothetical removal of the Interstate Highway System would reduce aggregate welfare by 12.5%. The effects exhibit, however, significant variation across cities and skill groups. These results underlie the potential of transport policies to amplify welfare inequality.
A growing body of literature documents a positive effect of migrants and refugees on international trade flows. Using data on European import and export flows with 154 non-European countries from 2002 to 2015, we find a negative relationship between asylum policies and trade flows. In particular, higher asylum approval rates correlate negatively with European imports. We do not find evidence of a systematic relationship between exports and refugee policies. We argue that the negative correlation between imports and asylum policies is confounded by underlying international tensions. Asylum policies are often used by governments as a foreign policy tool, as countries are more likely to accept refugees from rival regimes. We provide evidence that asylum approval rates correlate with previously used measures of international tensions and are sensitive to international incidents.
This article studies persistence in regional patterns of development in England and Wales from the middle ages to today. To this aim, I use the Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs to create a database of local markets established from c. 700 to c. 1600. I find that locations with a market that survived into the sixteenth century grew at faster rates in the late medieval period. Locations with an unsuccessful market, on the other hand, appear to have stagnated. Using nighttime light intensity as a measure for contemporary economic development, I show that places with a successful medieval market emit more light relative to other locations, the effect being similar across urban and rural areas. Overall, I find a high degree of persistence in the regional distribution of economic activity over several centuries.