Why are large cities faster? Universal scaling and self-similarity in urban organization and dynamics
Cities have existed since the beginning of civilization and have always been intimately connected with humanity's cultural and technological development. Much about the human and social dynamics that takes place is cities is intuitively recognizable across time, space and culture; yet we still do not have a clear cut answer as to why cities exist or to what factors are critical to make them thrive or collapse. Here, we construct an extensive quantitative characterization of the variation of many urban indicators with city size, using large data sets for American, European and Chinese cities. We show that social and economic quantities, characterizing the creation of wealth and new ideas, show increasing returns to population scale, which appear quantitatively as a power law of city size with an exponent β≃ 1.15 > 1. Concurrently, quantities characterizing material infrastructure typically show economies of scale, namely β≃ 0.8 > 1. The existence of pervasive scaling relations across city size suggests a universal social dynamics common to all cities within an urban system. We sketch some of their general ingredients, which include the acceleration of social life and a restructuring of individual social networks as cities grow larger. We also build simple dynamical models to show that increasing returns in wealth and innovation can fuel faster than exponential growth, which inexorably lead to crises of urban organization. To avoid them we show that growth may proceed in cycles, separated by major urban adaptations, with the unintended consequence that the duration of such cycles decreases with larger urban population size and is now estimated to be shorter than a human lifetime. Copyright EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2008
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 63 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (06)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.springer.com|
Web page: http://publications.edpsciences.org/
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10051|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fujita, Masahisa & Hamaguchi, Nobuaki, 2001. "Intermediate goods and the spatial structure of an economy," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 79-109, February.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2006.
"Urban growth and housing supply,"
Journal of Economic Geography,
Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 71-89, January.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2005. "Urban Growth and Housing Supply," NBER Working Papers 11097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2005. "Urban Growth and Housing Supply," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2062, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:eurphb:v:63:y:2008:i:3:p:285-293. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.