The Bartlett School of Planning


Jae Kwang Lee

Research subject

Thesis title: The Impact of Transport Infrastructure on Productivity, Employment Center Growth and Land Values in the Seoul Region

Primary supervisor: Dr Jung Won Sonn
Secondary supervisor: Dr Qiulin Ke
Starting date: 2012
Completion date: 2017 

This study explores the wider economic effects of transport infrastructure investment and aims to provide empirical evidences regarding their magnitudes and patterns at the micro level, using the Seoul region as a case. Following the classification of the economic effects of transport infrastructure investment presented by Venables, the study focuses on three aspects of economic performance: productivity, employment and land values. Specifically, three analyses have been carried out to determine the wider economic effects of transport infrastructure investment and its user-benefits. Three separate empirical strategies have been developed for the three analyses, with various spatial and instrument variables created and regression models developed. A range of accessibility indicators have been also constructed to capture changes in accessibility resulting from transport infrastructure investment. It is found that transport-induced agglomeration effects are positive in the Seoul region, and its magnitude is in the range of elasticities reported in previous studies. It is also found that transport infrastructure investment leads to an increase in a firm’s productivity through the mechanism of agglomeration. The second analysis shows that transport-induced labour accessibility is one of key determinants of job growth, with relative accessibility having greater effects than absolute accessibility in the Seoul region. The third analysis shows that rail transit investment has not only resulted in a reduction in travel costs but also generated wider economic benefits such as increased employment opportunities. It is also found that the magnitude and pattern of the effect of rail transit investment differs across different types of land uses and that these benefits vary with the distance to a rail station. The overarching conclusion drawn from the findings is that well-designed transport infrastructure investment generates wider economic benefits in addition to the user-benefits. Therefore, transport infrastructure investment can be considered as a useful planning tool to address various issues in urban and regional areas and to reverse their economic and social decline.


Jae Kwang Lee is a PhD candidate at the Bartlett School of Planning, researching transport infrastructure investment and its economic outcomes in urban and regional areas,  and he is also a teaching assistant for Spatial Analysis.

Prior to joining the Bartlett, Jae Kwang worked as a researcher and professional consultant in Seoul, advising the central and local governments on housing policy, urban regeneration and their development plans

Jae Kwang had been trained between Seoul (Seoul National University) and London (University College London). With a background in the urban engineering and computer science, he enjoys working with a multidisciplinary research domain ranging from transportation to demography and energy. He is interested in “data-driven” quantitative approach to uncover key insights from big data.