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Distance, land, and proximity: economic analysis and the evolution of cities

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  • G Duranton

Abstract

The author attempts to provide a synthesis of the long-run evolution of cities by taking an economic perspective. He defends the idea that urban growth for preindustrial cities has been limited by the tyranny of distance. Then he argues that technological progress, by fostering mobility, has reinforced economies of agglomeration and thus allowed for larger cities. This has led to the development of industrial cities and the dominance of the tyranny of distance. Nowadays, however, technological progress in communications and telecommunications seems to be challenging the rationale for agglomeration in cities as more and more economic interactions can be realized at arm's length. Increasing mobility may have turned into a threat for cities, hence the prediction about the demise of cities. Nonetheless, it is argued that the `tyranny of proximity' may provide a strong glue to keep postindustrial cities together.

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  • G Duranton, 1999. "Distance, land, and proximity: economic analysis and the evolution of cities," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 31(12), pages 2169-2188, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:31:y:1999:i:12:p:2169-2188
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    Cited by:

    1. Mesbah Motamed & Raymond Florax & William Masters, 2014. "Agriculture, transportation and the timing of urbanization: Global analysis at the grid cell level," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 339-368, September.
    2. Geenhuizen, Marina van & Nijkamp, Peter, 2001. "Urban futures in the era of the e-economy," Serie Research Memoranda 0019, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    3. Bosker, Maarten & Buringh, Eltjo, 2017. "City seeds: Geography and the origins of the European city system," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 139-157.
    4. Brouwer Aleid & Pellenbarg Pieter, 2011. "The Importance of Place in Corporate Identity an Investigation on the Presence of Old Dutch Firms on the Internet," European Spatial Research and Policy, De Gruyter Open, vol. 18(2), pages 79-94, November.
    5. Florian Ploeckl, 2017. "Towns (and villages): definitions and implications in a historical setting," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliom├ętrie), vol. 11(2), pages 269-287, May.
    6. Geenhuizen, M. van & Nijkamp, P., 2002. "A changing spatial scene of innovation," Serie Research Memoranda 0012, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    7. N. A. Phelps & R. J. Fallon & C. L. Williams, 2001. "Small Firms, Borrowed Size and the Urban-Rural Shift," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(7), pages 613-624.

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