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Urban primacy, gigantism, and international trade: Evidence from Asia and the Americas

  • Moomaw, Ronald L.
  • Alwosabi, Mohammed A.

Gustavsson [1999] finds that policies that promote international trade increase the size of a country’s largest city relative to the country’s total population, which is defined here as an increase in urban gigantism. In contrast, Ades and Glaeser [1995] report urban gigantism is reduced by freer political institutions and, with less confidence, more open trade. In light of Henderson’s (2000) findings that excessive urban concentration inhibits economic growth, these conflicting results for the relationship between openness and urban gigantism (concentration), which are of great interest for the new economic geography, call for additional study. This study uses two measures of urban concentration and finds that lower international-trade costs are associated with lower primacy, but not with lower gigantism. Unlike Gustavsson, however, we find no evidence that lower trade costs increase gigantism.

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Paper provided by ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn in its series ZEI Working Papers with number B 20-2003.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeiwps:b202003
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  1. Ades, Alberto F & Glaeser, Edward L, 1995. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 195-227, February.
  2. Brueckner, Jan K, 1990. "Analyzing Third World Urbanization: A Model with Empirical Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(3), pages 587-610, April.
  3. Moomaw, Ronald L. & Shatter, Ali M., 1996. "Urbanization and Economic Development: A Bias toward Large Cities?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 13-37, July.
  4. Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Trade, Distortions, and Long-Run Economic Growth," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(2), pages 299-328, June.
  5. Sawers, Larry, 1989. "Urban Primacy in Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(4), pages 841-59, July.
  6. J. Vernon Henderson, 1996. "Ways to Think about Urban Concentration: Neoclassical Urban Systems versus the New Economic Geography," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 19(1-2), pages 31-36, April.
  7. Henderson, Vernon, 2000. "How urban concentration affects economic growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2326, The World Bank.
  8. Mutlu, Servet, 1989. "Urban Concentration and Primacy Revisited: An Analysis and Some Policy Conclusions," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(3), pages 611-39, April.
  9. Raul Livas Elizondo & Paul Krugman, 1992. "Trade Policy and the Third World Metropolis," NBER Working Papers 4238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Rosen, Kenneth T. & Resnick, Mitchel, 1980. "The size distribution of cities: An examination of the Pareto law and primacy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 165-186, September.
  11. Wheaton, William C & Shishido, Hisanobu, 1981. "Urban Concentration, Agglomeration Economies, and the Level of Economic Development," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 17-30, October.
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