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Aging nations and the future of cities


  • Carl Gaigné
  • François Thisse


We investigate whether an aging population may challenge the supremacy of large working-cities. To this end, we develop an economic geography model with two types of individuals (the elderly and workers) and two sectors (consumer services and manufacturing). Individuals are geographically mobile and their agglomeration within a city generates rising urban costs through competition for land. When the elderly are immobile and equally distributed between cities, an aging population works against the agglomeration of production. When the elderly are free to choose their residence, the most likely scenario is such that the city with the lower share of old people follows a U-shaped curve. Increasing commuting costs cut short the first phase in which the employment share decreases

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  • Carl Gaigné & François Thisse, 2009. "Aging nations and the future of cities," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 09-13, INRA UMR SMART-LERECO.
  • Handle: RePEc:rae:wpaper:200913

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward L. Glaeser, Jed Kolko, and Albert Saiz, 2001. "Consumer city," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 27-50, January.
    2. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, January.
    3. Edward Glaeser & Janet Kohlhase, 2003. "Cities, regions and the decline of transport costs," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 83(1), pages 197-228, October.
    4. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    5. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2004. "Sprawl and urban growth," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 56, pages 2481-2527 Elsevier.
    6. Stuart A. Gabriel & Stuart S. Rosenthal, 2004. "Quality of the Business Environment Versus Quality of Life: Do Firms and Households Like the Same Cities?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 438-444, February.
    7. Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-François Thisse, 2006. "Regional Specialization, Urban Hierarchy, And Commuting Costs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1295-1317, November.
    8. Ginsburgh, Victor & Papageorgiou, Yorgo & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1985. "On existence and stability of spatial equilibria and steady-states," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 149-158, June.
    9. Chen, Yong & Rosenthal, Stuart S., 2008. "Local amenities and life-cycle migration: Do people move for jobs or fun?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 519-537, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Grafeneder-Weissteiner, Theresa & Prettner, Klaus, 2013. "Agglomeration and demographic change," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 1-11.
    2. David Plane, 2012. "What about aging in regional science?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 48(2), pages 469-483, April.
    3. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New Economic Geography and the City," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 13-02, INRA UMR SMART-LERECO.
    4. K. Newbold, 2015. "Population aging: What role for regional science?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 55(2), pages 357-372, December.
    5. Rafael González‐Val, 2010. "The Evolution Of U.S. City Size Distribution From A Long‐Term Perspective (1900–2000)," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(5), pages 952-972, December.

    More about this item


    economic geography; aging population; spatial mobility; sectoral mobility; commuting costs;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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