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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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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Lorenzen & Ram Mudambi & Andreas Schotter, 0. "International connectedness and local disconnectedness: MNE strategy, city-regions and disruption," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 0, pages 1-24.
    2. Cruzatti C., John, 2021. "Free Trade Agreements and Development: a Global Analysis with Local Data," Working Papers 0702, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    3. Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Ron Boschma, 2021. "Do scientific capabilities in specific domains matter for technological diversification in European regions?," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2116, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised May 2021.
    4. Arif, Imran, 2021. "Productive knowledge, economic sophistication, and labor share," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    5. Jason Deegan & Tom Broekel & Rune Dahl Fitjar, 2021. "Searching through the Haystack: The relatedness and complexity of priorities in smart specialisation strategies," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2123, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jun 2021.
    6. Christopher Esposito, 2021. "The Geography of Breakthrough Innovation in the United States over the 20th Century," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2126, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Sep 2021.
    7. Antonietti, Roberto & Franco, Chiara, 2021. "From FDI to economic complexity: a panel Granger causality analysis," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 225-239.
    8. Lapatinas, Athanasios & Litina, Anastasia & Zanaj, Skerdilajda, 2020. "Environmental Culture and Economic Complexity," MPRA Paper 105067, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Abbasiharofteh, Milad & Kinne, Jan & Krüger, Miriam, 2021. "The strength of weak and strong ties in bridging geographic and cognitive distances," ZEW Discussion Papers 21-049, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    10. Emanuela Sirtori & Louis Colnot, 2020. "Assessing the impact of megatrends on regional industrial transformations," Working Papers 202001, CSIL Centre for Industrial Studies.
    11. Zemtsov, S., 2021. "New technologies and regional development in the modern period," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 196-207.
    12. Mark Lorenzen & Ram Mudambi & Andreas Schotter, 2020. "International connectedness and local disconnectedness: MNE strategy, city-regions and disruption," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 51(8), pages 1199-1222, October.
    13. Ozgun, Burcu & Broekel, Tom, 2021. "The geography of innovation and technology news - An empirical study of the German news media," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    14. Anthony Frigon & David L. Rigby, 2021. "Geographies of Knowledge Sourcing and the Value of Knowledge in Multilocational Firms," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2132, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Oct 2021.
    15. Wirkierman, Ariel L. & Ciarli, Tommaso & Savonna, Maria, 2021. "A map of the fractal structure of high-tech dynamics across EU regions," MERIT Working Papers 2021-023, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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    Keywords

    economic complexity; complexity; scaling; occupations; cities; agglomeration;
    All these keywords.

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