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The Size Distribution of Cities with Distance-Bound Households

Watanabe, Axel (2020): The Size Distribution of Cities with Distance-Bound Households.

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There has been a long tradition of presumed perfect mobility in urban economics. Workers switch their locations in direct response to differences in local economic performance. Recent empirical observations prove otherwise. The number of movers rapidly declines with distance while there is a positive correlation between distance moved and city size. I build a general equilibrium model of a system of cities to explain the city-size distribution as a result of imperfect mobility. Consumers’ logarithmic perception of distance makes the city-size distribution heavy tailed. I also extrapolate how tolerant residents are to distance in each US city from the data on city size and interurban migration.

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