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Understanding the Internal Structure of Self-Organizing Cities


  • Stephen L. Ross

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Xiaofang Dong

    (Xiamen University)


Lucas and Rossi-Hansberg (2002) and Fujita and Ogawa (1982, 1989) develop urban models in which economic activity self-organizes due to spillovers in production. However, Fujita and Ogawa (1982, 1989) show that rents and employment density are flat or falling as the city center is approached, while in the simulations of Lucas and Rossi-Hansberg (2002) rents rise at an increasing rate towards the center suggesting a concentration of employment near the center. For the Lucas and Rossi-Hansberg model, we prove that land rents and density must be flat or falling near the center. We explain how using a polar coordinate system when approximating a two-dimensional integral can create systematic imprecision in their simulations, and then present revised simulations. The proofs and simulations suggest that in urban models where economic activity self-organizes firms do not unduly cluster at the center of a central business district even in monocentric equilibria. JEL Classification: R13, R14, R30 Key words: non-monocentric cities, rent gradient, employment density, polar coordinate simulations

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen L. Ross & Xiaofang Dong, 2012. "Understanding the Internal Structure of Self-Organizing Cities," Working papers 2012-34, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2012-34

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2015. "The Economics of Density: Evidence From the Berlin Wall," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 2127-2189, November.
    2. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2001. "Externalities and Cities," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 245-274, April.
    3. H Ogawa & M Fujita, 1989. "Nonmonocentric Urban Configurations in a Two-Dimensional Space," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 21(3), pages 363-374, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kantor, Yuval & Rietveld, Piet & van Ommeren, Jos, 2014. "Towards a general theory of mixed zones: The role of congestion," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 50-58.

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    JEL classification:

    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • R30 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - General

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