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Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants

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  • Alberto F. Ades
  • Edward L. Glaeser

Abstract

Using theory, case studies, and cross-country evidence, we investigate the factors behind the concentration of a nation's urban population in a single city. High tariffs, high costs of internal trade, and low levels of international trade increase the degree of concentration. Even more clearly, politics (such as the degree of instability) determines urban primacy. Dictatorships have central cities that are, on average, 50 percent larger than their democratic counterparts. Using information about the timing of city growth, and a series of instruments, we conclude that the predominant causality is from political factors to urban concentration, not from concentration to political change.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," NBER Working Papers 4715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4715
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Krugman, Paul & Elizondo, Raul Livas, 1996. "Trade policy and the Third World metropolis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 137-150, April.
    2. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
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    1. The Economics of Skyscraper Height (Part II)
      by Jason Barr in Skynomics Blog on 2019-01-03 13:59:59

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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Evidence on Growth, Increasing Returns and the Extent of the Market," NBER Working Papers 4714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
    3. Tsekeris, Theodore, 2016. "Interregional trade network analysis for road freight transport in Greece," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 132-148.
    4. Krugman, Paul & Elizondo, Raul Livas, 1996. "Trade policy and the Third World metropolis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 137-150, April.
    5. I.P.P. van Lelyveld & M.A. Donker, 2001. "Technology and the (Re)Location of Financial Activity a European Perspective," Research Series Supervision (discontinued) 42, Netherlands Central Bank, Directorate Supervision.
    6. Rebecca Menes, 1999. "The Effect of Patronage Politics on City Government in American Cities, 1900-1910," NBER Working Papers 6975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Zheng, Wei & Walsh, Patrick Paul, 2019. "Economic growth, urbanization and energy consumption — A provincial level analysis of China," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 153-162.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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