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Productive Cities: Sorting, Selection, and Agglomeration

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  • Kristian Behrens
  • Gilles Duranton
  • Frédéric Robert-Nicoud

Abstract

Large cities produce more output per capita than small cities. This higher productivity may occur because more talented individuals sort into large cities, because large cities select more productive entrepreneurs and firms, or because of agglomeration economies. We develop a model of systems of cities that combines all three elements and suggests interesting complementarities between them. The model can replicate stylized facts about sorting, agglomeration, and selection in cities. It also generates Zipf's law for cities under empirically plausible parameter values. Finally, it provides a useful framework within which to reinterpret extant empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristian Behrens & Gilles Duranton & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2014. "Productive Cities: Sorting, Selection, and Agglomeration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(3), pages 507-553.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/675534
    DOI: 10.1086/675534
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    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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