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Local Growth Theory


  • Jordan Rappaport


What is the effect of factor mobility on income convergence? Why are population flows so persistent? Extending the neoclassical growth model to allow for mobile labor, in a long run steady state, individuals and firms receive equal levels of utility and profits across localities. But frictions in the form of a cost to installing capital proportional to the rate of gross investment and an analogous cost to moving proportional to the rate of net migration effect extended equilibrium transition paths during which rents will be associated with living and owning capital in some localities relative to others. The speed of income convergence depends mostly on capital mobility (i.e. the installation cost) and is relatively insensitive to the degree of labor mobility. Persistent population flows result from relatively small changes in local productivity or quality of life, even with very high labor mobility; but even when population is relatively distant from its steady-state level, wages and land prices remain relatively close to their steady-state levels. Local growth theory admits several other results. The speed of income convergence varies considerably in a neigborhood very close to the steady state. Consumption smoothing causes steady-state asset wealth and hence steady-state population density to be history dependent. Steady-state land prices rise at exactly the right rate to offset any flow of population from high productivity to high quality-of-life locales as per capita income rises.

Suggested Citation

  • Jordan Rappaport, 1999. "Local Growth Theory," CID Working Papers 19, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:cidhav:19

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    Cited by:

    1. Rappaport, Jordan, 2004. "Why are population flows so persistent?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 554-580, November.
    2. Rappaport, Jordan, 2005. "How does labor mobility affect income convergence?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 567-581, March.
    3. Albert Solé Ollé & Elisabet Viladecans Marsal, 2003. "Fiscal and growth spillovers in large urban areas," Working Papers 2003/1, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

    More about this item


    Economic Growth; Income Convergence; Factor Mobility; Migration; Spatial Equilibrium; Compensating Differentials.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers


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