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The productivity advantages of large cities: distingushing agglomeration from firm selection

Author

Listed:
  • Pierre-Philippe Combes

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université)

  • Gilles Duranton

    (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania - University of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia])

  • Laurent Gobillon

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, INED - Institut national d'études démographiques)

  • Diego Puga

    (CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - ENSAI - Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information [Bruz] - X - École polytechnique - ENSAE Paris - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Sébastien Roux

    (CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - ENSAI - Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information [Bruz] - X - École polytechnique - ENSAE Paris - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

Firms are more productive, on average, in larger cities. Two main explanations have been offered: firm selection (larger cities toughen competition, allowing only the most productive to survive) and agglomeration economies (larger cities promote interactions that increase productivity), possibly reinforced by localized natural advantage. To distinguish between them, we nest a generalized version of a tractable firm selection model and a standard model of agglomeration. Stronger selection in larger cities left-truncates the productivity distribution, whereas stronger agglomeration right-shifts and dilates the distribution. Using this prediction, French establishment-level data, and a new quantile approach, we show that firm selection cannot explain spatial productivity differences. This result holds across sectors, city size thresholds, establishment samples, and area definitions.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Diego Puga & Sébastien Roux, 2012. "The productivity advantages of large cities: distingushing agglomeration from firm selection," Post-Print hal-00812695, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00812695
    DOI: 10.3982/ECTA8442
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00812695
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agglomeration; Firm selection; Productivity; Cities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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