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The Economics of Density: Evidence from the Berlin Wall

  • Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt
  • Stephen J. Redding
  • Daniel M. Sturm
  • Nikolaus Wolf

This paper develops a quantitative model of city structure to separate agglomeration forces, dispersion forces and fundamentals as determinants of location choices. The model remains tractable and amenable to empirical analysis because of stochastic shocks to worker productivity, which yield a gravity equation for commuting flows. To empirically disentangle alternative determinants of location choices, we use Berlin's division and reunification as a source of exogenous variation in the surrounding concentration of economic activity. Using disaggregated data on land prices, workplace employment and residence employment for thousands of city blocks for 1936, 1986 and 2006, we find that the model can account both qualitatively and quantitatively for the observed changes in city structure.

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File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1154.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1154.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1154
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
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  3. Enrico Moretti, 2004. "Workers' Education, Spillovers, and Productivity: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 656-690, June.
  4. Stephen Redding & Daniel.M Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2007. "History and industry location: evidence from German airports," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3680, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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  7. Stephen Redding & Daniel M. Sturm, 2005. "The costs of remoteness: evidence from German division and reunification," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51613, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Sébastien Roux, 2008. "Estimating Agglomeration Economies with History, Geology and Worker Effects," Working Papers 2008-22, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  9. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2004. "Micro-foundations of urban agglomeration economies," 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 48, pages 2063-2117 Elsevier.
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  14. Jeffrey C. Brinkman, 2013. "Congestion, agglomeration, and the structure of cities," Working Papers 13-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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  16. Hoyt Bleakley & Jeffrey Lin., 2010. "Portage: path dependence and increasing returns in U.S. history," Working Papers 10-27, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  17. Hanson, Gordon H, 1997. "Increasing Returns, Trade and the Regional Structure of Wages," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 113-33, January.
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  19. McDonald, John F. & Osuji, Clifford I., 1995. "The effect of anticipated transportation improvement on residential land values," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 261-278, June.
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  28. repec:bla:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:4:p:1011-1038 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Strange, William C., 2004. "Evidence on the nature and sources of agglomeration economies," 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 49, pages 2119-2171 Elsevier.
  30. Robert E. Lucas & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2002. "On the Internal Structure of Cities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1445-1476, July.
  31. McArthur, David Philip & Kleppe, Gisle & Thorsen, Inge & Ubøe, Jan, 2010. "The spatial transferability of parameters in a gravity model of commuting flows," Discussion Papers 2010/3, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.
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