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

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Listed:
  • Mark D. Partridge
  • Dan S. Rickman
  • Kamar Ali
  • M. Rose Olfert

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman & Kamar Ali & M. Rose Olfert, 2008. "Lost in space: population growth in the American hinterlands and small cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(6), pages 727-757, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:8:y:2008:i:6:p:727-757
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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