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Cities, regions and the decline of transport costs

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  • Edward Glaeser

    ()

  • Janet Kohlhase

    ()

Abstract

The theoretical framework of urban and regional economics is built on transportation costs for manufactured goods. But over the twentieth century, the costs of moving these goods have declined by over 90% in real terms, and there is little reason to doubt that this decline will continue. Moreover, technological change has eliminated the importance of fixed infrastructure transport (rail and water) that played a critical role in creating natural urban centres. In this article, we document this decline and explore several simple implications of a world where it is essentially free to move goods, but expensive to move people. We find empirical support for these implications. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2003

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Papers in Regional Science.

Volume (Year): 83 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 197-228

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Handle: RePEc:spr:presci:v:83:y:2003:i:1:p:197-228

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Related research

Keywords: transport costs; congestion; spatial distribution of economic activity; concentration and decentralisation; productivity; growth of cities and regions; density;

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  1. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1993. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 4313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Sprawl and Urban Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2004, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Xavier Gabaix & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2003. "The Evolution of City Size Distributions," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0310, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  4. McMillen, Daniel P. & Smith, Stefani C., 2003. "The number of subcenters in large urban areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 321-338, May.
  5. Small, Kenneth A. & Song, Shunfeng, 1994. "Population and Employment Densities: Structure and Change," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6nk5v6b4, University of California Transportation Center.
  6. Ed Glaeser & Jed Kolko & Albert Saiz, 2000. "Consumer City," NBER Working Papers 7790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jess Gaspar & Edward L. Glaeser, 1996. "Information Technology and the Future of Cities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1756, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Small, K.A. & Gomez-Ibanez, J.A., 1996. "Urban Transportation," Papers 95-96-4, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  9. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. " The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
  10. Robert E. Lucas & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2002. "On the Internal Structure of Cities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1445-1476, July.
  11. Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001. "Cities and Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-42, April.
  12. Brueckner, Jan K., 1987. "The structure of urban equilibria: A unified treatment of the muth-mills model," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 821-845 Elsevier.
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