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Lost in space: population growth in the American hinterlands and small cities

Listed author(s):
  • Mark D. Partridge
  • Dan S. Rickman
  • Kamar Ali
  • M. Rose Olfert

The sources of urban agglomeration and the urban hierarchy have been extensively studied. Despite the pivotal role of the hinterlands in theories of the development of the urban hierarchy, little attention has been paid to the effect of urban agglomeration on growth in the hinterlands, particularly in a developed, mature economy. Therefore, this study examines how proximity to urban agglomeration affects contemporary population growth in hinterland U.S. counties. Proximity to urban agglomeration is measured in terms of both distances to higher-tiered areas in the urban hierarchy and proximity to market potential. Particular attention is paid to whether periodic changes and trends in underlying conditions (e.g., technology or transport costs) have altered population dynamics in the hinterlands and small urban centers. Over the period 1950-2000, we find strong negative growth effects of distances to higher-tiered urban areas, with significant, but lesser, effects of distance to market potential. Further, the costs of distance, if anything, appear to be increasing over time, consistent with various recent theories stressing the importance of how new technology affects the spatial distribution of activity in a mature urban system, while factors associated with the New Economic Geography are of lesser importance.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of Economic Geography.

Volume (Year): 8 (2008)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 727-757

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:8:y:2008:i:6:p:727-757
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