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Urban Productivity and Factor Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century

  • Raphael Bostic

    (Stanford)

  • Joshua Gans

    (University of New South Wales)

  • Scott Stern

    (Sloan)

This paper uncovers a series of empirical facts regarding the sources of U.S. urban growth in the 1880s. We use a large theoretical literature to provide motivations for a number of potential sources of growth, particularly those based on geographical proximity externalities. These sources are characterised and linked to empirical proxies. Then we estimate the covariation of these empirical proxies with the growth rate in output, capital and labor respectively. We find that traditional (neoclassical), several geographic externality, and socio-political factors all covary significantly with aggregate growth, though in very specific ways. For example, the size of a city (a measure of the degree of urbanization) is uncorrelated with output growth, positively correlated with labor growth, and negatively correlated with capital growth. No one extant theory of growth accounts simultaneously for all the phenomena that we observe.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Urban/Regional with number 9507001.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 07 Jul 1995
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpur:9507001
Note: 27 pages, postscript file
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Miyao, Takahiro, 1987. "Dynamic urban models," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 877-925 Elsevier.
  2. Paul M. Romer, 1989. "Human Capital And Growth: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barro, Robert J, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-43, May.
  4. Paul Romer, 1989. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alwyn Young, 1992. "A Tale of Two Cities: Factor Accumulation and Technical Change in Hong Kong and Singapore," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1992, Volume 7, pages 13-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rotemberg, Julio J. & Saloner, Garth, 2000. "Competition and human capital accumulation: a theory of interregional specialization and trade," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 373-404, July.
  7. Barro, Robert J., 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogeneous Growth," Scholarly Articles 3451296, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  9. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. David, Paul A. & Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1990. "Marshallian factor market externalities and the dynamics of industrial localization," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 349-370, November.
  11. J. Vernon Henderson, 1994. "Externalities and Industrial Development," NBER Working Papers 4730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1963. "Technological Change in the Machine Tool Industry, 1840–1910," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(04), pages 414-443, December.
  13. Henderson, Vernon & Kuncoro, Ari & Turner, Matt, 1995. "Industrial Development in Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1067-90, October.
  14. Robert G. King & Sergio T. Rebelo, 1989. "Transitional Dynamics and Economic Growth in the Neoclassical Model," NBER Working Papers 3185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Charles R. Hulten & Robert M. Schwab, 1993. "Endogenous Growth, Public Capital, and the Convergence of Regional Manufacturing Industries," NBER Working Papers 4538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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