IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedkrw/rwp13-02.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The settlement of the United States, 1800 to 2000: the long transition towards Gibrat's law

Author

Listed:
  • Klaus Desmet
  • Jordan Rappaport

Abstract

A prominent strand of economic literature argues that population growth rates across locations areas are uncorrelated with the population levels of those locations (?Gibrat?s Law?). Such uncorrelated growth, it is argued, can account for the current distribution of population across locations. This paper shows that, on the contrary, locations? population growth throughout U.S. history has always been highly correlated with their initial population levels. Throughout the entire 19th century and the early 20th century, low-population locations tended to grow faster than intermediate-population locations, thereby causing the distribution of population to become more compressed. Throughout the second half of the 19th century and the entire 20th century, population growth among the highest-population locations was faster than population growth among intermediate-population locations, thereby causing the distribution of population to become more dispersed. ; This pattern of population growth is driven by two separate forces. First is the ?entry? of new locations into the United States as the country spread westward. These locations typically entered with a low population after which many of them gradually transitioned up to much larger ones. Such transitions can account for the faster growth of low population locations. Second, the congestion arising from limited supplies of land within any given location may have eased over time. This may have occurred, for example, with the technology-driven move by workers from agriculture to manufacturing and services. Such a shift would cause high-population places to grow faster. ; Understanding historical population growth across locations gives insight into near-future population growth. For example, since 2000 population growth in larger locations (though not necessarily the very largest) has tended to outpace population growth in intermediate and smaller locations. This suggests that ongoing technological change may be continuing to relieve the ?congestion? associated with living in large metro areas while increasing the disadvantages of living in small locations. Rapid advances in information technology are a possible source of such technological change.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Desmet & Jordan Rappaport, 2013. "The settlement of the United States, 1800 to 2000: the long transition towards Gibrat's law," Research Working Paper RWP 13-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:rwp13-02
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/reswkpap/pdf/rwp13-02.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
    2. Eaton, Jonathan & Eckstein, Zvi, 1997. "Cities and growth: Theory and evidence from France and Japan," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4-5), pages 443-474, August.
    3. Ciccone, Antonio, 2002. "Agglomeration effects in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 213-227, February.
    4. Dinkelman, Taryn & Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, 2015. "Migration, congestion externalities, and the evaluation of spatial investments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 189-202.
    5. Rappaport, Jordan, 2007. "Moving to nice weather," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 375-398, May.
    6. Giesen, Kristian & Suedekum, Jens, 2014. "City age and city size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 193-208.
    7. Joshua Hojvat Gallin, 2004. "Net Migration and State Labor Market Dynamics," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 1-22, January.
    8. Barro, Robert J & Mankiw, N Gregory & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1995. "Capital Mobility in Neoclassical Models of Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 103-115, March.
    9. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-251, April.
      • Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence," Papers 645, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
      • Barro, Robert J. & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Scholarly Articles 3451299, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    10. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
    11. Rappaport, Jordan, 2004. "Why are population flows so persistent?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 554-580, November.
    12. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. "The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
    13. Krugman, Paul, 1996. "Confronting the Mystery of Urban Hierarchy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-418, December.
    14. Davis, Morris A. & Heathcote, Jonathan, 2007. "The price and quantity of residential land in the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2595-2620, November.
    15. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez De Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "Growth in regions," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 259-309, September.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, "undated". "Growth in Regions," Working Paper 73436, Harvard University OpenScholar.
      • Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez de Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Growth in Regions," NBER Working Papers 18937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Gaspar, Jess & Glaeser, Edward L., 1998. "Information Technology and the Future of Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 136-156, January.
    17. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Overman, Henry G., 2003. "Zipf's law for cities: an empirical examination," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 127-137, March.
    18. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
    19. Lee, Sanghoon & Li, Qiang, 2013. "Uneven landscapes and city size distributions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 19-29.
    20. Desmet, Klaus & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2009. "Spatial growth and industry age," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2477-2502, November.
    21. Rappaport, Jordan, 2005. "How does labor mobility affect income convergence?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 567-581, March.
    22. Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1990. "One Market or Many? Labor Market Integration in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(1), pages 85-107, March.
    23. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 535-586.
    24. Robert M. Solow, 1973. "Congestion Cost and the Use of Land for Streets," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(2), pages 602-618, Autumn.
    25. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
    26. Richard Easterlin, 1960. "Interregional Differences in Per Capita Income, Population, and Total Income, 1840-1950," NBER Chapters, in: Trends in the American Economy in the Nineteenth Century, pages 73-140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    27. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    28. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "The U.S. Structural Transformation and Regional Convergence: A Reinterpretation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 584-616, June.
    29. Thomas J. Holmes & Sanghoon Lee, 2010. "Cities as Six-by-Six-Mile Squares: Zipf's Law?," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 105-131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    30. Mitchener, Kris James & McLean, Ian W., 1999. "U.S.Regional Growth And Convergence, 1880–1980," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 1016-1042, December.
    31. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
    32. Dale W. Jorgenson & Mun S. Ho & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2005. "Growth of U.S. Industries and Investments in Information Technology and Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 403-478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Consumption amenities and city population density," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 533-552, November.
    34. Desmet, Klaus & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2006. "Employment concentration across U.S. counties," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 482-509, July.
    35. Jackson, Jerry R. & Johnson, Ruth C. & Kaserman, David L., 1984. "The measurement of land prices and the elasticity of substitution in housing production," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-12, July.
    36. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
    37. Sánchez-Vidal, María & González-Val, Rafael & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2014. "Sequential city growth in the US: Does age matter?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 29-37.
    38. Thorsnes, Paul, 1997. "Consistent Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution between Land and Non-Land Inputs in the Production of Housing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 98-108, July.
    39. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    40. Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2002. "Bones, Bombs, and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1269-1289, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. J. Vernon Henderson & Matthew A. Turner, 2020. "Urbanization in the Developing World: Too Early or Too Slow?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 150-173, Summer.
    2. Kristian Giesen & Jens Suedekum, 2012. "The Size Distribution Across All 'Cities': A Unifying Approach," SERC Discussion Papers 0122, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    3. Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Ross, Stephen L., 2015. "Change and Persistence in the Economic Status of Neighborhoods and Cities," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1047-1120, Elsevier.
    4. Antonio Accetturo & Michele Cascarano & Guido de Blasio, 2019. "Dynamics of urban growth: Italy, 1951–2011," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 36(2), pages 373-398, July.
    5. Rafael González‐Val, 2019. "Historical urban growth in Europe (1300–1800)," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(2), pages 1115-1136, April.
    6. Behrens, Kristian & Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, 2015. "Agglomeration Theory with Heterogeneous Agents," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 171-245, Elsevier.
    7. repec:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa14p34 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. César Ducruet & Réka Juhász & Dávid Krisztián Nagy & Claudia Steinwender, 2019. "All Aboard: The Aggregate Effects of Port Development," Working Papers 1160, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    9. Vanessa Grüdtner & André M. Marques, 2020. "Is Gibrat's law robust when cities interact each other?," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(4), pages 1087-1111, August.
    10. González-Val, Rafael, 2018. "The spatial distribution of US cities," MPRA Paper 89586, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Rutger-Jan Lange & Coen N. Teulings, 2021. "The option value of vacant land: Don't build when demand for housing is booming," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 21-022/IV, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Zhang, Junfu, 2017. "Walled cities in late imperial China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 71-88.
    13. Hanlon, W. Walker & Miscio, Antonio, 2017. "Agglomeration: A long-run panel data approach," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 1-14.
    14. Beltrán Tapia, Francisco J. & Díez-Minguela, Alfonso & Martinez-Galarraga, Julio, 2018. "Tracing the Evolution of Agglomeration Economies: Spain, 1860–1991," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(1), pages 81-117, March.
    15. Beltràn Tapia, F. & Díez-Minguela, A. & Martínez-Galarraga, J., 2017. "The Shadow of Cities: Size, Location and the Spatial Distribution of Population in Spain," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1749, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    16. Antonio Accetturo & Sauro Mocetti, 2019. "Historical Origins and Developments of Italian Cities," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 5(2), pages 205-222, July.
    17. J�rn Ratts� & Hildegunn E. Stokke, 2014. "Population Divergence and Income Convergence: Regional Distribution Dynamics for Norway," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(11), pages 1884-1895, November.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Desmet, Klaus & Henderson, J. Vernon, 2015. "The Geography of Development Within Countries," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1457-1517, Elsevier.
    2. Breinlich, Holger & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2014. "Regional Growth and Regional Decline," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 683-779, Elsevier.
    3. repec:esx:essedp:729 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2014. "The Growth of Cities," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 781-853, Elsevier.
    5. Lee, Sanghoon & Li, Qiang, 2013. "Uneven landscapes and city size distributions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 19-29.
    6. Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Consumption amenities and city population density," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 533-552, November.
    7. Young, Andrew T. & Higgins, Matthew J. & Levy, Daniel, 2013. "Heterogeneous convergence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 238-241.
    8. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2009. "The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(4), pages 983-1028, December.
    9. Rafael Gonz�lez-Val & Luis Lanaspa, 2016. "Patterns in US Urban Growth, 1790-2000," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(2), pages 289-309, February.
    10. Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Urbanization and Structural Transformation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 535-586.
    11. Rafael González‐Val, 2019. "Historical urban growth in Europe (1300–1800)," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(2), pages 1115-1136, April.
    12. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2019. "Urban Growth and its Aggregate Implications," NBER Working Papers 26591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman & Kamar Ali & M. Rose Olfert, 2008. "Lost in space: population growth in the American hinterlands and small cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(6), pages 727-757, November.
    14. Antonio Accetturo & Michele Cascarano & Guido de Blasio, 2019. "Dynamics of urban growth: Italy, 1951–2011," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 36(2), pages 373-398, July.
    15. Jordan Rappaport, 2006. "Consumption amenities and city crowdedness," Research Working Paper RWP 06-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    16. Stephen J. Redding, 2010. "The Empirics Of New Economic Geography," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 297-311, February.
    17. Matthew Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew T. Young, 2003. "Growth and Convergence across the US: Evidence from County-Level Data," Working Papers 2003-03, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    18. Jordan Rappaport & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "The U.S. as a coastal nation," Research Working Paper RWP 01-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    19. Arshad, Sidra & Hu, Shougeng & Ashraf, Badar Nadeem, 2019. "Zipf’s law, the coherence of the urban system and city size distribution: Evidence from Pakistan," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 513(C), pages 87-103.
    20. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Zhang, Junfu, 2017. "Walled cities in late imperial China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 71-88.
    21. Michael Amior & Alan Manning, 2018. "The Persistence of Local Joblessness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(7), pages 1942-1970, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N91 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:rwp13-02. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/frbkcus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.