Fluctuations, Instability, and Agglomeration
Recent models in economic geography suggest that there may be very large numbers of equilibrium spatial structures. Simulations suggest, however, that the structures that emerge are surprisingly orderly, and often seem approximately to follow simple rules about the spacing of urban sites. This paper offers an explanation in terms of the process by which a spatial economy diverges away from an even distribution of activity across the landscape. It shows that a small divergence of activity away from spatial uniformity, even if it is highly irregular, can be regarded as the sum of a number of simple periodic fluctuations at different spatial 'wavelengths'; these fluctuations grow at different rates. There is a particular 'preferred wavelength' that grows fastest; provided that the initial distribution of activity across space is flat enough, this preferred wavelength eventually dominates the spatial pattern and becomes the typical distance between cities. The approach suggests that surprisingly simple principles of self-organization may lie beneath the surface of models that appear at first to yield hopelessly complex possibilities.
|Date of creation:||Jan 1994|
|Date of revision:|
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- Arthur, W. Brian, 1990. "'Silicon Valley' locational clusters: when do increasing returns imply monopoly?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 235-251, June.
- Paul R. Krugman, 1991. "First Nature, Second Nature, and Metropolitan Location," NBER Working Papers 3740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Krugman, Paul, 1993. "On the number and location of cities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 293-298, April.
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