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Survival of the Fittest in Cities: Agglomeration, Selection, and Polarisation

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  • Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric
  • Behrens, Kristian

Abstract

Empirical studies consistently report that labour productivity and TFP rise with city size. The reason is that cities attract the most productive agents, select the best of them, and make the selected ones even more productive via various agglomeration economies. This paper provides a microeconomically founded model of vertical city differentiation in which the latter two mechanisms (`agglomeration' and `selection') operate simultaneously. Our model is both rich and tractable enough to allow for a detailed investigation of when cities emerge, what determines their size, and how they interact through the channels of trade. We then uncover stylised facts and suggestive econometric evidence that are consistent with the most distinctive equilibrium features of our model. We show, in particular, that larger cities are both more productive and more unequal (`polarised'), that inter-city trade is associated with higher income inequalities, and that the proximity of large urban centres inhibits the development of nearby cities.

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  • Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric & Behrens, Kristian, 2008. "Survival of the Fittest in Cities: Agglomeration, Selection, and Polarisation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7018, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7018
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    3. Kristian Behrens & Frédéric Robert‐Nicoud, 2009. "Krugman's Papers in Regional Science: The 100 dollar bill on the sidewalk is gone and the 2008 Nobel Prize well‐deserved," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(2), pages 467-489, June.
    4. Kohei Nagamachi, 2012. "Comparative Advantage and Skill Premium of Regions," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-868, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    5. Fabien Candau & Marc Fleurbaey, 2011. "Agglomeration and Welfare with Heterogeneous Preferences," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 685-708, September.
    6. Matthias Wrede, 2013. "Heterogeneous skills and homogeneous land: segmentation and agglomeration," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(5), pages 767-798, September.
    7. Yasuhiro Sato & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 2012. "Market size and entrepreneurship," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(6), pages 1139-1166, November.
    8. Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P., 2012. "Agglomeration, trade and selection," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 987-997.
    9. Xi Yang, 2014. "Occupational Choice and Income Inequalities under Regional Integration," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 313-325, May.
    10. Kristian Behrens & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2009. "Survival of the Fittest in Cities: Agglomeration, Polarization, and Income Inequality," Cahiers de recherche 0919, CIRPEE.
    11. Neil Lee & Paul Sissons & Katy Jones, 2016. "The Geography of Wage Inequality in British Cities," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(10), pages 1714-1727, October.
    12. Antonio Accetturo & Valter Di Giacinto & Giacinto Micucci & Marcello Pagnini, 2018. "Geography, productivity, and trade: Does selection explain why some locations are more productive than others?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 949-979, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agglomeration; Entrepreneur heterogeneity; Firm selection; Income inequalities; Urban systems; Urbanization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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