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Bones, Bombs and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity

  • Donald R. Davis
  • David E. Weinstein

We consider the distribution of economic activity within a country in light of three leading theories - increasing returns, random growth, and locational fundamentals. To do so, we examine the distribution of regional population in Japan from the Stone Age to the modern era. We also consider the Allied bombing of Japanese cities in WWII as a shock to relative city sizes. Our results support a hybrid theory in which locational fundamentals establish the spatial pattern of relative regional densities, but increasing returns may help to determine the degree of spatial differentiation. One implication of these results is that even large temporary shocks to urban areas have no long-run impact on city size.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8517.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8517.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
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Publication status: published as Davis, Donald R. and David W. Weinstein. "Bones, Bombs, And Break Points: The Geography Of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, 2002, v92(5,Dec), 1269-1289.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8517
Note: EFG ITI
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  1. Paul A. David, . "Path Dependence, its critics, and the quest for 'historical economics'," Working Papers 00011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
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  9. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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  11. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
  12. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  13. Fujita, Masahisa & Mori, Tomoya, 1996. "The role of ports in the making of major cities: Self-agglomeration and hub-effect," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 93-120, April.
  14. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew D. Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 22(2), pages 179-232, August.
  15. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-56, September.
  16. Jordan Rappaport & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "The U.S. as a coastal nation," Research Working Paper RWP 01-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  17. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
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  1. Bones, Bombs, and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity (AER 2002) in ReplicationWiki
  2. Talk:Development economics in Wikipedia English ne '')
  3. Historical Economic Geography

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