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Optimal City Hierarchy: A Dynamic Programming Approach to Central Place Theory


  • Wen-Tai Hsu

    (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

  • Thomas J. Holmes

    (University of Minnesota)


It is an empirically plausible description of cities and is route to explain empirical regularities in city size distribution and industrial locations. This paper formalizes central place hierarchy by providing a rationale for it via a social planner's problem. The optimal city hierarchy is then compared with the equilibrium city hierarchy in Hsu (2008).

Suggested Citation

  • Wen-Tai Hsu & Thomas J. Holmes, 2009. "Optimal City Hierarchy: A Dynamic Programming Approach to Central Place Theory," 2009 Meeting Papers 342, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:342

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
    2. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
    3. Gilles Duranton, 2007. "Urban Evolutions: The Fast, the Slow, and the Still," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 197-221, March.
    4. Marcus Berliant & Hiroki Watanabe, 2015. "Explaining the size distribution of cities: Extreme economies," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(1), pages 153-187, March.
    5. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
    6. Fujita, Masahisa & Krugman, Paul & Mori, Tomoya, 1999. "On the evolution of hierarchical urban systems1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 209-251, February.
    7. Eaton, B Curtis & Lipsey, Richard G, 1982. "An Economic Theory of Central Places," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 56-72, March.
    8. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    9. Tomoya Mori & Koji Nishikimi & Tony E. Smith, 2008. "The Number-Average Size Rule: A New Empirical Relationship Between Industrial Location And City Size," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 165-211.
    10. Duranton, Gilles, 2006. "Some foundations for Zipf's law: Product proliferation and local spillovers," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 542-563, July.
    11. Quinzii, Martine & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1990. "On the Optimality of Central Places," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1101-1119, September.
    12. Soo, Kwok Tong, 2005. "Zipf's Law for cities: a cross-country investigation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 239-263, May.
    13. Córdoba, Juan-Carlos, 2008. "On the distribution of city sizes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 177-197, January.
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