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High-Speed Rail and Energy Productivity: Evidence from China

Using the difference-in-differences method combined with the propensity score matching, this study identifies the causal relationship between high-speed rail (HSR) and energy productivity in China. Furthermore, we investigate the mechanism through which HSR affects energy productivity, as well as the heterogeneity of the impact across quantiles and distances. The results show that HSR connection contributes to the improvement of energy productivity. This finding is consolidated after a potential endogeneity problem is addressed using the instrumental variable method and a variety of potential confounders are controlled through a series of robustness checks. On average, the marginal impact of HSR on energy productivity is approximately 9%. Moreover, HSR connection cannot be completely substituted by traditional railway and aviation in improving energy productivity. The heterogeneity analysis suggests that the positive energy productivity effect of HSR gradually decreases with an increasing distance to the nearest HSR station. In addition, HSR network accessibility has a significant positive effect on energy productivity, while technological innovation mediates the relationship between HSR development and energy productivity. We propose that to achieve the long-term improvement of energy productivity, policymakers should comprehensively consider both transit-oriented development and ecology-oriented development modes.

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Keywords: High-Speed rail, Energy productivity, Propensity score matching, Difference-in-differences, Instrumental variable method, China

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.45.1.yayu

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Published in Volume 45, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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