Historical trends of agglomeration to the capital region
Takatoshi Tabuchi, 28 November 2013
Two important long-run trends in economic geography are steady urbanisation and agglomeration to the big cities. This column presents recent research on population trends focusing on fixed regions over time. In seven of the eight countries studied, the region containing the largest metropolitan area significantly increased in population share at the expense of the rest of the country over the past few centuries. A ‘new economic geography’ model with multiple, asymmetric regions can replicate this new stylised fact.
The first stylised fact about regional population distribution is the steady progress of urbanisation. As shown in Figure 1, the urban population percentage has been steadily growing for a long time all over the world (United Nations 2011).
Figure 1. Urban population share by major geographical area
Tags: agglomeration, capital cities, cities, new economic geography, urbanisation
Competing successfully in a globalising world: Lessons from Lancashire
Nicholas Crafts, Nikolaus Wolf, 22 October 2013
Europeans worry about competition from low-wage economies. This column looks at the basis of the success of the 19th-century Lancashire cotton industry faced with a similar situation. The message is that the productivity benefits of a successful agglomeration can underpin both high wages and competitive advantage in world trade. Policymakers can support such agglomerations by easing land-use restrictions, promoting investments in transport, and providing local public goods.
The ‘first globalisation’ of the 19th century – driven by the substantial falls in trade costs associated with the age of steam – saw the ‘First Unbundling’ (Baldwin 2006), in which industrial production and consumption became spatially separated, often by large distances.
Topics: Economic history, International trade
Tags: agglomeration, cities, cotton, globalisation, Industrial Revolution, industrialisation, Lancashire, trade, wages
Do large departments make academics more productive? Agglomeration and peer effects in research
Clément Bosquet, Pierre-Philippe Combes, 21 June 2013
Every academic has an opinion about what makes a good department. This column brings evidence from French economics departments. It suggests that larger departments are associated with slightly more but no better publications per academic. And while diversity in terms of researcher quality lowers average publication quality, diversity in research topics increases it.
Every academic has an opinion about what makes a good department. Surprisingly, there are few hard studies quantifying this precisely, although possible implications for an optimal design of education and research policies are numerous. Aghion et al. (2010) is an example of the general recent concern about the optimal design and governance of universities.
Topics: Education, Productivity and Innovation
Tags: agglomeration, France, Peer Effects
Caution to place makers: Greater firm density does not always promote incumbent firm health
William Kerr, Oliver Falck, Christina Günther, Stephan Heblich, 11 February 2013
Governments around the world are fostering industrial ‘clusters’, hoping to create agglomeration economies. Using the political division of Germany in 1949, this column argues that heightened firm density can raise costs for incumbent firms in addition to the often-cited agglomeration benefits. This is important for policymakers contemplating efforts to promote their local areas by targeted cluster initiatives and bidding to attract large firms. Policy efforts that are neutral in orientation – such as physical infrastructure investments or improving the generation and dissemination of knowledge – may be more effective alternatives.
A common theme in economic geography is that increasing returns to scale at the local level are essential for explaining the geographical distribution of economic activity. These agglomerative forces are often cited as a rationale for policy intervention to attract new firms to areas.
Topics: Industrial organisation
Tags: agglomeration, clusters, East Germany, Germany
Why policies may need to be place-based in order to be people-centred
Jose Enrique Garcilazo, Joaquim Oliveira Martins, William Tompson, 20 November 2010
The World Bank's Indermit Gill recently argued that economic growth will naturally be spatially unbalanced and that to try to spread it out – too thinly or too soon – would discourage it. This column responds by pointing out that economic concentration is neither necessary nor sufficient for growth.
In a recent Vox column “Regional Development Policies: Place-Based or People-Centred?”, Indermit Gill (2010), the World Bank’s Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asia Region, argues strongly for the “spatially blind” approach to regional development policies advocated by the Bank’s 2009 World De
Tags: agglomeration, aid, development, economic growth
You can raise productivity through R&D, but geography matters a lot
Sergey Lychagin, John Van Reenen, Margaret E Slade, Joris Pinkse, 25 October 2010
Why do local policymakers fight so hard to attract research and development labs to their area? This column provides a possible explanation. Using patent data, it finds a strong link between R&D and growth caused by knowledge spillovers between firms.
President Obama recently proposed increasing the generosity of the US research and development (R&D) tax credit system and making it a permanent feature of the US tax code. This was justified by the idea that more R&D would lead to growth, not just worldwide but particularly in the US.
But such a bold statement raises some fundamental questions:
Topics: Productivity and Innovation
Tags: agglomeration, economic geography, innovation, productivity and innovation, research and development
Multinational firms, agglomeration, and global networks
Laura Alfaro, Maggie Chen, 8 January 2010
Agglomeration effects are important but difficult to measure. This column uses a new database with precise geographical information to investigate the locational interdependence of multinational firms. Knowledge spillovers and capital- and labour-market externalities exert a significant effect on the co-agglomeration of multinational headquarters, while input-output linkages also play a significant role in the case of subsidiary co-agglomeration.
Recent decades have witnessed an explosion in the activities of multinational corporations. Sharp declines in trade and telecommunication costs have led to increasing separation of management and production facilities within individual firms. The rise of multinational firms represents a particularly extreme example of expanding geographic distance between firm leadership and production.
Topics: Industrial organisation, International trade
Tags: agglomeration, externalities, multinationals
Clustering together abroad: South Korean multinationals in China
Peter Debaere, Joon H. Lee , Myungho Paik, 3 June 2009
Gains from agglomeration may explain why investors choose the same location when going abroad, but why do firms from the same country cluster together? This column examines evidence from South Korean firms investing in China and finds that investors of the same nationality benefit from stronger forward and backward linkages with each other.
Foreign direct investment has played a prominent role in the current wave of globalisation. The World Investment Report (UNCTAD, 2008) notes that total worldwide FDI flows in 2007 amounted to 1.8 trillion dollars. More than 25% of these flows were to developing economies.
Topics: International finance
Tags: agglomeration, foreign direct investment, spillovers
Is the new economic geography passé?
Marius Brülhart, 7 January 2009
Paul Krugman suggests that his Nobel-prize-winning “core-periphery” model was perhaps more relevant a century ago than today. This appears to be true in terms of overall manufacturing concentrations in Europe and North America, which are unravelling. Large-scale agglomeration forces, however, are alive and well in the developing world, as are localised sectoral clustering phenomena in industrialised countries.
In his Nobel Prize lecture on December 8, Paul Krugman argued that his core-periphery model of economic geography is in some sense becoming obsolete.
Topics: Development, Productivity and Innovation
Tags: agglomeration, clusters, economic geography, urbanisation
Long-run spatial inequality in France: Evolution and determinants
Pierre-Philippe Combes, Miren Lafourcade, Jacques-François Thisse, Jean-Claude Toutain, 5 December 2008
This column traces the economic evolution of France’s regions over the last 140 years to test the predictions of new economy geography. Both manufacturing and services experienced a bell-shaped curve of spatial development, in which spatial concentration initially increased and then decreased. While transport costs played a key role, positive spillovers are an increasingly important source of agglomeration gains.
This is a very special year for economic geography.
Topics: Europe's nations and regions, Productivity and Innovation
Tags: agglomeration, economic geography, France, spatial inequality