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

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  • Donald R. Davis
  • David E. Weinstein

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2001. "Bones, Bombs and Break Points: The Geography of Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 8517, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8517
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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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    2. Historical Economic Geography

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