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On Amenities, Natural Advantage and Agglomeration

  • Krupka, Douglas J.

    (University of Michigan)

A prominent feature of economic geography in America is the positive correlation amongst local incomes, housing costs and city population. This paper embeds a “black box” agglomeration economy within a more neoclassical general equilibrium model of local wages, rents and population to assess the ability of various conceptual models to predict this cross-sectional variation. I use exogenous changes in housing supply to induce changes in population and examine whether the changes in rents and wages move in the same direction under neo-classical assumptions, agglomeration economies in production, congestion in production, or urbanization economies in consumption. On their own, none of these urban scale effects generate the observed pattern. All urban scale effects generate a negative correlation between rents and population. Combining natural advantage with the urban scale effects improves the models’ output. It generally predicts positive correlations amongst the three variables, although some of these effects are ambiguous in the production agglomeration model. If natural advantage and housing supply constraints vary more-or-less independently, the results suggest a better fit of the data is provided by either the congestion in production or the agglomeration in consumption models. The micro-economics of such consumption-oriented agglomeration economies have received less attention than production-oriented agglomeration economies. The results of this model thus suggest that consumption-oriented agglomeration and congestion should receive more attention in the future.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3598.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3598
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  1. Joseph Gyourko & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2013. "Superstar Cities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 167-99, November.
  2. Tabuchi, Takatoshi, 1998. "Urban Agglomeration and Dispersion: A Synthesis of Alonso and Krugman," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 333-351, November.
  3. Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2003. "Agglomeration and Economic Geography," CEPR Discussion Papers 3838, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  5. Ellison, Glenn & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 889-927, October.
  6. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Michael Pflüger & Jens Südekum, 2008. "A synthesis of footloose-entrepreneur new economic geography models: when is agglomeration smooth and easily reversible?," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 39-54, January.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2005. "Urban Growth and Housing Supply," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2062, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
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  12. Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2006. "Heterogeneous firms, agglomeration and economic geography: spatial selection and sorting," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 323-346, June.
  13. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven Saks, 2003. "Why is Manhattan So Expensive? Regulation and the Rise in House Prices," NBER Working Papers 10124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2003. "Microfoundations of Urban Agglomeration Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4062, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  16. Tolley, George & Crihfield, John, 1987. "City size and place as policy issues," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 33, pages 1285-1311 Elsevier.
  17. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521873161 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Tolley, George S., 1974. "The welfare economics of city bigness," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 324-345, July.
  19. Joseph Gyourko & Albert Saiz, 2006. "Construction Costs And The Supply Of Housing Structure," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 661-680.
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