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Endowments and market access; the size of towns in historical perspective: Saxony, 1550–1834

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  • Ploeckl, Florian

Abstract

The spatial concentration of people into towns shapes the population distribution, the factors explaining town size are therefore important determinants on the spatial distribution of people. This paper uses a historical case study, Saxony in 1834, to analyze empirically the relative impact of endowments and agglomeration based on the application of a New Economic Geography model. The model and data allow the analysis of the complete population distribution, from large cities down to the smallest village. The results suggest that location characteristics explain the relative size of settlements, but only 9% of absolute town and 2% of absolute village population. Similarly, the direct effects of location characteristics shape the relative size of urban growth between 1550 and 1834, but conditional on transportation cost decreases the size of the effects is only between 1/4 and 1/9 of the second-order effect through the impact on market access. Finally, the model implies a location characteristics index value for each settlement. Actual geographic characteristics, ranging from agricultural land quality to weather patterns, explain a significant share of these values, and therefore settlement size.

Suggested Citation

  • Ploeckl, Florian, 2012. "Endowments and market access; the size of towns in historical perspective: Saxony, 1550–1834," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 607-618.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:42:y:2012:i:4:p:607-618 DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2012.02.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Ploeckl, 2017. "Towns (and villages): definitions and implications in a historical setting," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(2), pages 269-287, May.
    2. Florian Ploeckl, 2015. "It's all in the Mail: The Economic Geography of the German Empire," School of Economics Working Papers 2015-12, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    3. Florian Ploeckl, 2012. "Space, settlements, towns: the influence of geography and market access on settlement distribution and urbanization," Working Papers 2012/23, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Population history; Town size; New Economic Geography; Location amenities; Agglomeration;

    JEL classification:

    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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    1. Historical Economic Geography

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