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Information Technology and the Future of Cities

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Listed:
  • Jess Gaspar
  • Edward Glaeser

Abstract

Will improvements in information technology eliminate face-to- face interactions and make cities obsolete? In this paper, we present a model where individuals make contacts and choose whether to use electronic or face-to-face meetings in their interactions. Cities are modeled as a means of reducing the fixed travel costs involved in face-to-face interactions. When telecommunications technology improves, there are two opposing effects on cities and face-to-face interactions: some relationships that used to be face-to-face will be done electronically (an intuitive substitution effect), and some individuals will choose to make more contacts, many of which result in face-to-face interactions. Our empirical work suggests that telecommunications may be a complement, or at least not a strong substitute for cities and face-to-face interactions. We also present simple models of learning in person, from a written source, or over the phone, and find that interactive communication dominates other forms of learning when ideas are complicated.

Suggested Citation

  • Jess Gaspar & Edward Glaeser, 1996. "Information Technology and the Future of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5562
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    2. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    3. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    4. Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001. "Cities and Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-342, April.
    5. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    6. Ota, Mitsuru & Fujita, Masahisa, 1993. "Communication technologies and spatial organization of multi-unit firms in metropolitan areas," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 695-729, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure

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