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Transport costs: measures, determinants, and regional policy implications for France

Pierre-Philippe Combes and Miren Lafourcade

Journal of Economic Geography, 2005, vol. 5, issue 3, 319-349

Abstract: We develop a methodology to accurately compute transport costs. Based on the real transport network, our measure encompasses the characteristics of infrastructure, vehicle and energy used, as well as labor, insurance, tax and general charges borne by transport carriers. Computed for the 341 French employment areas, road transport shipments and the period 1978--1998, this new measure is compared to alternative ones such as great circle distance, real distance, or real time. We conclude that these proxies do a very good job in capturing transport costs in cross-section analysis. However, important discrepancies limit the possibility of using them in time series analysis. Moreover, our measure allows us to identify the policies that most impact transport costs. We show that transport technology and market structure are responsible for most of the transport cost decrease. Infrastructure improvements only condition the spatial distribution of the gains. Finally, some implications for researchers and regional policy makers are derived. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2005
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Working Paper: Transport Costs: Measures, Determinants and Regional Policy Implications for France (2005)
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