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Master Thesis

The Belle Époque of the railways: the Freycinet plan and its effects on the French population and economy

Abstract : In this paper, I study the impact of the Freycinet plan (1879-1914) on the French population and economy,in the short run.The Freycinet plan was one of the major public works programmes launched by the young Third Republic in 1878-1879, which aimed to massively develop rail way connections across the French territory. I first show that, in accordance with there public an ideology at the time, the plan targeted less served and under privileged areas, there fore contributing to the unification of the French territory. Then, I use a difference-in-differences methodology to assess the impact of the plan on the French population. Since rail road construction is endogenous, I resort to an instrumental variable strategy focusing on the shortest route between the predefined end points of each train line. I find that gaining access to the rail way thanks to the Freycinet plan is associated with are lative increase in the population of connected municipalities by around 30% after the plan was implemented (in the early Interwar period),a result that with stands a series of robustness checks and is mainly explained by population displacement, from unconnected to connected municipalities. Eventually, I find evidence that additional connected municipalities thanks to the Freycinet plan did increase the GDP of French départements, in a non-linear way, but had no effect on farming profits.
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Master Thesis
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Submitted on : Monday, December 7, 2020 - 10:26:34 PM
Last modification on : Friday, October 15, 2021 - 1:41:06 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, March 8, 2021 - 8:07:47 PM


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  • HAL Id : dumas-03045195, version 1



Olivier Lenoir. The Belle Époque of the railways: the Freycinet plan and its effects on the French population and economy. Economics and Finance. 2020. ⟨dumas-03045195⟩



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