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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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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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Marina Azzimonti, Department of Economics, Stonybrook University, 10 Nicolls Road, Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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  1. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
  2. Anthony J. Venables, 2003. "Spatial Disparities in Developing Countries: Cities, Regions and International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0593, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2003. "Microfoundations of Urban Agglomeration Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4062, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Abdel-Rahman, Hesham M. & Anas, Alex, 2004. "Theories of systems of cities," 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 52, pages 2293-2339 Elsevier.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Xavier Gabaix & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2003. "The Evolution of City Size Distributions," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0310, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. J.V. Henderson, 1972. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," Working Papers 75, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Duffie, Darrell, et al, 1994. "Stationary Markov Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 745-81, July.
  11. J. Vernon Henderson & Anthony Venables, 2008. "The Dynamics of City Formation," NBER Working Papers 13769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 2003. "Urban evolution in the USA," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 343-372, October.
  15. 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.
  16. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 1994. "City formation with commitment," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 373-390, June.
  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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