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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper

New Road Infrastructure: the Effects on Firms


This paper estimates the impact of road improvements on firm employment and productivity using plant level longitudinal data for Britain. Exposure to transport improvements is measured by changes in employment accessibility along the road network. These changes are constructed using data on employment for small geographical units, details of the main road network and of road construction schemes carried out between 1998 and 2007. We deal with the central problem of endogenous scheme placement by using changes due to new road links and exploiting the spatial detail in our data to focus on accessibility changes close to new schemes. We find substantial effects on employment and numbers of plants for small-scale geographical areas (electoral wards), but no employment response at plant level. This suggests that road construction affects firm entry and exit, but not the employment of existing firms. We also find effects on labour productivity and wages at the firm level, although these results are less robust.


Stephen Gibbons, Teemu Lyytikäinen, Henry Overman and Rosa Sanchis-Guarner

7 September 2012     Paper Number SERCDP0117

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This SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper is published under the centre's Urban programme.