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Spatial Evolution of the US Urban System

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  • Y Ioannides
  • Henry Overman

Abstract

We test implications of economic geography models for location, size and growth of cities with US Census data for 1900 û 1990. Our tests involve non-parametric estimations of stochastic kernels for the distributions of city sizes and growth rates, conditional on various measures of market potential and on features sizes of neighbors. We show that while these relationships change during the twentieth century, by 1990 they stabilize such that the size distribution of cities conditional on a range of spatial variables are all roughly independent of these conditioning variables. In contrast, similar results suggest that there is a spatial element to the city wage distribution. Our parametric estimations for growth rates against market potential, entry of neighbors, and own lagged population imply a negative effect of market potential on growth rates, unless own lagged population is also included, in which case market potential has a positive effect and own lagged population a negative one. Cities grow faster when they are small relative to their market potential. In total, our results support some theoretical predictions, but also provide a number of interesting puzzles.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0482.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0482

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: Urban growth; spatial evolution; economic geography;

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  1. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Danny Quah, 1992. "Empirical cross-section dynamics in economic growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 75, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  6. Quah, Danny T., 1996. "Regional convergence clusters across Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 951-958, April.
  7. Quah, Danny, 1997. "Empirics for Growth and Distribution: Stratification, Polarization, and Convergence Clubs," CEPR Discussion Papers 1586, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Overman, Henry G., 2003. "Zipf's law for cities: an empirical examination," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 127-137, March.
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  10. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  11. Y Ioannides & Henry Overman, 2000. "Cross Sectional Evolution of the US City Size Distribution," CEP Discussion Papers dp0483, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  20. Paul Krugman, 1992. "A Dynamic Spatial Model," NBER Working Papers 4219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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