NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Role of Transportation Speed in Facilitating High Skilled Teamwork

Xiaofang Dong, Siqi Zheng, Matthew E. Kahn

NBER Working Paper No. 24539
Issued in April 2018
NBER Program(s):The Environment and Energy Program, The Labor Studies Program, The Public Economics Program, The Political Economy Program, The Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

High skilled workers gain from face to face interactions. If the skilled can move at higher speeds, then knowledge diffusion and idea spillovers are likely to reach greater distances. This paper uses the construction of China’s high speed rail (HSR) network as a natural experiment to test this claim. HSR connects major cities, that feature the nation’s best universities, to secondary cities. Since bullet trains reduce cross-city commute times, they reduce the cost of face-to-face interactions between skilled workers who work in different cities. Using a data base listing research paper publication and citations, we document a complementarity effect between knowledge production and the transportation network. Co-authors’ productivity rises and more new co-author pairs emerge when secondary cities are connected by bullet train to China’s major cities.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24539

 
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