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Productive cities: Sorting, selection, and agglomeration

  • Kristian Behrens
  • Gilles Duranton
  • Frédéric Robert-Nicoud

Large cities produce more output per capita than small cities. This higher productivity may occur because more talented individuals sort into large cities, because large cities select more productive entrepreneurs and firms, or because of agglomeration economies. We develop a model of systems of cities that combines all three elements and suggests interesting complementarities between them. The model can replicate stylized facts about sorting, agglomeration, and selection in cities. It also generates Zipf’s law for cities under empirically plausible parameter values. Finally, it provides a useful framework within which to reinterpret extant empirical evidence. Large cities produce more output per capita than small cities. This higher productivity may occur because more talented individuals sort into large cities, because large cities select more productive entrepreneurs and firms, or because of agglomeration economies. We develop a model of systems of cities that combines all three elements and suggests interesting complementarities between them. The model can replicate stylized facts about sorting, agglomeration, and selection in cities. It also generates Zipf’s law for cities under empirically plausible parameter values. Finally, it provides a useful framework within which to reinterpret extant empirical evidence.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève in its series Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva with number 13111.

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Length: 89 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gen:geneem:13111
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