Is there something special about cities for economic growth?

As economies grow richer, they urbanize. Which way does the causality run? There are a lot of reasons to suspect that urban areas are drivers of economic growth, but what is it about urban areas that makes them such centers of innovation? Are there differences in urban areas that developed earlier or later in history, or that grew because of natural resource booms versus manufacturing expansions?

Blog Posts

External Links



  1. 2019.   Jedwab, Remi and Vollrath, Dietrich.   "The Urban Mortality Transition and Poor Country Urbanization".   American Economic Journal, Macroeconomics, 11(1):223-75.
  2. 2018.   Desmet, Klaus and Nagy, D{\'a}vid Kriszti{\'a}n and Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban.   "The Geography of Development".   Journal of Political Economy, 126(3):903-983.   Link
  3. 2017.   Redding, Stephen J. and Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban.   "Quantitative Spatial Economics".   Annual Review of Economics, 9(1):21-58.   Link
  4. 2017.   Joan Hamory Hicks and Marieke Kleemans and Nicholas Y. Li and Edward Miguel.   "Reevaluating Agricultural Productivity Gaps with Longitudinal Microdata". National Bureau of Economic Research   Link
  5. 2017.   Joan Hamory Hicks and Marieke Kleemans and Nicholas Y. Li and Edward Miguel.   "Reevaluating Agricultural Productivity Gaps with Longitudinal Microdata". National Bureau of Economic Research   Link
  6. 2016.   J. Vernon Henderson and Tim L. Squires and Adam Storeygard and David N. Weil.   "The Global Spatial Distribution of Economic Activity, Nature, History, and the Role of Trade". National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc   Link
  7. 2016.   Gollin, Douglas and Jedwab, Remi and Vollrath, Dietrich.   "Urbanization with and without industrialization".   Journal of Economic Growth, 21(1):35--70.   Link
  8. 2015.   Jedwab, Remi and Vollrath, Dietrich.   "Urbanization without growth in historical perspective".   Explorations in Economic History, 58(C):1-21.   Link
  9. 2015.   Bleakley, Hoyt and Lin, Jeffrey.   "History and the sizes of cities". Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia   Link
  10. 2014.   Klaus Desmet and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg.   "Spatial Development".   American Economic Review, 104(4):1211-1243.   Link
  11. 2014.   Alan de Brauw and Valerie Mueller and Hak Lim Lee.   "The Role of Rural--Urban Migration in the Structural Transformation of Sub-Saharan Africa".   World Development, 63:33 - 42.   Link
  12. 2014.   Paul Dorosh and James Thurlow.   "Can Cities or Towns Drive African Development? Economywide Analysis for Ethiopia and Uganda".   World Development, 63:113 - 123.   Link
  13. 2014.   Luc Christiaensen and Yasuyuki Todo.   "Poverty Reduction During the Rural--Urban Transformation -- The Role of the Missing Middle".   World Development, 63:43 - 58.   Link
  14. 2013.   Mark Dincecco and Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato.   "Military Conflict and the Rise of Urban Europe". IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca   Link
  15. 2012.   Guy Michaels and Ferdinand Rauch and Stephen J. Redding.   "Urbanization and Structural Transformation".   The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(2):535-586.   Link
  16. 2012.   Pierre-Philippe Combes and Gilles Duranton and Laurent Gobillon and Diego Puga and S{\'e}bastien Roux.   "The Productivity Advantages of Large Cities, Distinguishing Agglomeration From Firm Selection".   Econometrica, 80(6):2543-2594.   Link
  17. 2010.   Michael Greenstone and Richard Hornbeck and Enrico Moretti.   "Identifying Agglomeration Spillovers, Evidence from Winners and Losers of Large Plant Openings".   Journal of Political Economy, 118(3):536-598.   Link
  18. 2009.   Edward L. Glaeser and Joshua D. Gottlieb.   "The Wealth of Cities, Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States".   Journal of Economic Literature, 47(4):983-1028.   Link
  19. 2006.   Au, Chun-Chung and Vernon Henderson.   "How Migration Restrictions Limit Agglomeration and Productivity in China".   Journal of Development Economics, 80(2):350-388.
  20. 2005.   Sukkoo Kim.   "Industrialization and urbanization, Did the steam engine contribute to the growth of cities in the United States?".   Explorations in Economic History, 42(4):586 - 598.   Link
  21. 1995.   Alberto F. Ades and Edward L. Glaeser.   "Trade and Circuses, Explaining Urban Giants".   The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 110(1):195-227.   Link
  22. 1988.   Roback, Jennifer.   "Wages, Rents, and Amenities, Differences among Workers and Regions".   Economic Inquiry, 26(1):23-41.   Link
  23. 1982.   Roback, Jennifer.   "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life".   Journal of Political Economy, 90(6):1257-78.   Link
  24. 1955.   Hoselitz, Bert F..   "Generative and Parasitic Cities".   Economic Development and Cultural Change, 3(3):pp. 278-294.
  25. 1953.   Bert F. Hoselitz.   "The Role of Cities in the Economic Growth of Underdeveloped Countries".   Journal of Political Economy, 61:195.   Link

Back to blog

Share and Discuss