DP11252 Did Cheaper Flights Change the Direction of Science?

Author(s): Christian Catalini, Christian Fons-Rosen, Patrick Gaule
Publication Date: April 2016
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization, International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11252

We test how a reduction in travel cost aff ects the rate and direction of scientifi c research. Using a fi ne-grained, scientist-level dataset within chemistry (1991-2012), we fi nd that after Southwest Airlines enters a new route, scientifi c collaboration increases by 50%, an eff ect that is magnifi ed when weighting output by quality. The bene fits from the lower fares, however, are not uniform across scientist types: younger scientists and scientists that are more productive than their local peers respond the most. Thus, cheaper flights, by reducing frictions otherwise induced by geography and allowing for additional face-to-face interactions, seem to enable better matches over distance.