Up in the Air: The Role of Airports for Regional Economic Development

Our research examines the role of airports in regional development. Specifically, we examine two things: (1) the factors associated with whether or not a metro will have an airport, and (2) the effect of airport activities on regional economic development. Based on multiple regression analysis for U.S. metros, our research generates four key findings. First, airports are more likely to be located in larger metros with higher shares of cultural workers and warmer winters. Second, airports add significantly to regional development measured as economic output per capita. Third, the effect of airports on regional development occurs through two channels—their capacity to move both people and cargo, with the former being somewhat more important. Fourth, the impact of airports on regional development varies with their size and scale.

Florida, R., Mellander, C., & Holgersson, T. (2014). Up in the air: the role of airports for regional economic development. The Annals of Regional Science, 1–18. doi:10.1007/s00168-014-0651-z.