Bones, bombs and break points: The geography of economic activity

Weinstein, David E.; Davis, Donald R.

We consider the distribution of economic activity within a country in light of three leading theories -- increasing returns, random growth, and locational fundamentals. To do so, we examine the distribution of regional population in Japan from the Stone Age to the modern era. We also consider the Allied bombing of Japanese cities in WWII as a shock to relative city sizes. Our results support a hybrid theory in which locational fundamentals establish the spatial pattern of relative regional densities, but increasing returns may help to determine the degree of spatial differentiation. One implication of our results is that even large temporary shocks to urban areas have no long-run impact on city size.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 192
Published Here
February 10, 2011