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History and the sizes of cities

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  • Hoyt Bleakley
  • Jeffrey Lin

Abstract

We contrast evidence of urban path dependence with efforts to analyze calibrated models of city sizes. Recent evidence of persistent city sizes following the obsolescence of historical advantages suggests that path dependence cannot be understood as the medium-run effect of legacy capital but instead as the long-run effect of equilibrium selection. In contrast, a different, recent literature uses stylized models in which fundamentals uniquely determine city size. We show that a commonly used model is inconsistent with evidence of long-run persistence in city sizes and propose several modifications that might allow for multiplicity and thus historical path dependence.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoyt Bleakley & Jeffrey Lin, 2015. "History and the sizes of cities," Working Papers 15-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:15-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    12. Sanghoon Lee & Jeffrey Lin, 2018. "Natural Amenities, Neighbourhood Dynamics, and Persistence in the Spatial Distribution of Income," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(1), pages 663-694.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Albouy & Bryan A. Stuart, 2020. "Urban Population And Amenities: The Neoclassical Model Of Location," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 61(1), pages 127-158, February.
    2. Ager, Philipp & Eriksson, Katherine & Hansen, Casper Worm & Lønstrup, Lars, 2020. "How the 1906 San Francisco earthquake shaped economic activity in the American West," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    3. Agrawal, David R. & Trandel, Gregory A., 2019. "Dynamics of policy adoption with state dependence," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    4. Jeffrey K. O'Hara & Jeffrey Lin, 2020. "Population Density and Local Food Market Channels," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 42(3), pages 477-496, September.
    5. Thomas McGregor & Samuel Wills, 2016. "Surfing A Wave Of Economic Growth," OxCarre Working Papers 170, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    6. Mark Dincecco & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2016. "Military conflict and the rise of urban Europe," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 259-282, September.
    7. Wiebke Roß & Jens Weghake, 2015. "10 Jahre YouTube: Von dem Aufstieg einer Plattform und der Entwicklung neuer Märkte zum Kollateralschaden einer Google-Regulierung?," TUC Working Papers in Economics 0014, Abteilung für Volkswirtschaftslehre, Technische Universität Clausthal (Department of Economics, Technical University Clausthal).
    8. 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.
    9. Roß Wiebke & Weghake Jens, 2015. "10 Jahre YouTube: Von dem Aufstieg einer Plattform und der Entwicklung neuer Märkte zum Kollateralschaden einer Google-Regulierung? / 10 Years YouTube: From the Arising of a Platform and the Developme," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 66(1), pages 195-220, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Multiple equilibria; Locational fundamentals; Path dependence;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • 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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