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Dynamics of city formation

  • Vernon Henderson

    (Brown University)

  • Anthony Venables

    (Oxford University)

This paper examines city formation in a country whose urban population is growing steadily over time, with new cities required to accommodate this growth. In contrast to most of the literature there is immobility of housing and urban infrastructure, and investment in these assets is taken on the basis of forward-looking behavior. In the presence of these fixed assets cities form sequentially, without the population swings in existing cities that arise in current models, but with swings in house rents. Equilibrium city size, absent government, may be larger or smaller than is efficient, depending on how urban externalities vary with population. Efficient formation of cities with internalization of externalities involves local government intervention and borrowing to finance development. The paper explores the institutions required for successful local government intervention. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.red.2008.06.003
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Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 12 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 233-254

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:08-51
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  1. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2003. "Microfoundations of Urban Agglomeration Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4062, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 1994. "City formation with commitment," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 373-390, June.
  3. Abdel-Rahman, Hesham M. & Anas, Alex, 2003. "Theories of system of cities," Working Papers 2003-08, University of New Orleans, Department of Economics and Finance.
  4. Anthony J. Venables, 2003. "Spatial Disparities in Developing Countries: Cities, Regions and International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0593, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Henderson, J. Vernon & Wang, Hyoung Gun, 2007. "Urbanization and city growth: The role of institutions," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 283-313, May.
  6. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  7. Henderson, J Vernon & Venables, Anthony J, 2004. "The Dynamics of City Formation: Finance and Governance," CEPR Discussion Papers 4638, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. J.V. Henderson, 1972. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," Working Papers 75, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. James E. Rauch, 1993. "Does History Matter Only When it Matters Little? The Case of City-Indu try Location," NBER Working Papers 4312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 1999. "A Theory of Urban Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 252-284, April.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, . "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 382, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  12. Mark Wright & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2004. "Urban Structure and Growth," 2004 Meeting Papers 33, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Duffie, Darrell, et al, 1994. "Stationary Markov Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 745-81, July.
  14. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Bidding for Industrial Plants: Does Winning a 'Million Dollar Plant' Increase Welfare?," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5cz0h23t, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  15. Gabaix, Xavier & Ioannides, Yannis M., 2004. "The evolution of city size distributions," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 53, pages 2341-2378 Elsevier.
  16. J. Vernon Henderson & Anthony Venables, 2008. "The Dynamics of City Formation," NBER Working Papers 13769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Krugman, Paul, 1996. "Confronting the Mystery of Urban Hierarchy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-418, December.
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