Substantial but heterogeneous impacts of high-speed rail on talent flow in China


The great expansion of high-speed rail (HSR) in China facilitates communications and interactions among people across cities. Despite extensive literature documenting the effects of HSR on a variety of variables such as local economic development, research collaboration, tourism, and capital mobility, not much is known about how HSR affects the flow of well-educated workers, says talents. Here we estimate talent flow among Chinese cities based on large-scale resume data of online job seekers and explore how it is affected by HSR. Specifically, we employ both a multiple linear regression model that controls for several socioeconomic factors and a two-stage least square regression model that instruments the introduction of HSR to a city to address endogeneity concerns. We find that the introduction of HSR has an overall positive effect on the talent net inflow of a city although both inflow and outflow are increased. Moreover, the effects of HSR on talent flow are rather heterogeneous for cities with different levels of economic development and for talents working in different industries. Specifically, developed cities benefit from HSR, whereas less-developed cities are relatively impaired. Cities connected by HSR show significant advantage in attracting talents from secondary and tertiary industries. These substantial but heterogeneous effects of HSR suggest a critical need for more comprehensive thinking about the long-term benefits of entering the HSR network, especially for less-developed cities and those with comparative advantage in manufacturing and service industries.

arXiv preprint arXiv:2112.06508