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Complex Economic Activities Concentrate in Large Cities

Author

Listed:
  • Pierre-Alexandre Balland
  • Cristian Jara-Figueroa
  • Sergio Petralia
  • Mathieu Steijn
  • David Rigby
  • César Hidalgo

Abstract

Why do some economic activities agglomerate more than others? And, why does the agglomeration of some economic activities continue to increase despite recent developments in communication and transportation technologies? In this paper, we present evidence that complex economic activities concentrate more in large cities. We find this to be true for technologies, scientific publications, industries, and occupations. Using historical patent data, we show that the urban concentration of complex economic activities has been continuously increasing since 1850. These findings suggest that the increasing urban concentration of jobs and innovation might be a consequence of the growing complexity of the economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Cristian Jara-Figueroa & Sergio Petralia & Mathieu Steijn & David Rigby & César Hidalgo, 2018. "Complex Economic Activities Concentrate in Large Cities," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1829, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jul 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:1829
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    economic complexity; complexity; scaling; occupations; cities; agglomeration;
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