Essays on Urban Economics

by Vidal María Sánchez

Institution: Universitat de Barcelona
Year: 2016
Keywords: Economia urbana; Economía urbana; Urban economics; Geografia econòmica; Geografía económica; Economic geography; Comerç; Comercio; Commerce; Ciències Jurídiques, Econòmiques i Socials
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064978
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10803/387318


Cities present high levels of worker and business productivity thanks to their agglomeration economies, which are usually capitalised in higher wages. Cities are, moreover, the perfect environment for consumption, thanks to their large supply of amenities. However, the density of cities is at the same time responsible for rising congestion costs and higher housing prices. Thus, and in line with the urban economics literature, the equilibrium city size depends on the trade-off between the benefits accrued from these agglomeration forces and the costs associated with larger cities. This thesis contributes to this literature by providing three interesting findings about the economics of city formation and city evolution. First, this thesis inspects one of the mechanisms driving the existence of different cities of different sizes. Using data from US cities, it studies the evolution of city growth throughout the twentieth century. More specifically, the analysis focuses on the role played by the new-born cities created during the decades between 1900 and 2000. The first finding is that there are differences in city growth rates according to the age of the city. In general, when a city is born it presents a very high growth rate but, as the decades pass, it matures and its growth rate stabilises or even declines. Second, the results suggest that most of the growth differential across cities is driven by their first decade of existence, which is generally in line with the parametric results. This thesis also estimates the real net local employment responses to large manufacturing plant closures as a result of their international relocations. Specifically, it estimates the employment effects of the closure of 45 large manufacturing plants in Spain, which relocated to (mainly) developing countries between 2001 and 2006. Each municipality experiencing a closure is matched to a small set of comparable municipalities in terms of employment level and industry mix in the year 2000. It is found that treatments and controls do not differ in their 1990-2000 (pre-treatment) employment trends either, thereby lending credence to the identification assumption underpinning the differences-in-differences estimates used in this chapter. The results show that when a plant closes, for each job directly lost in the plant closure, only between 0.3 and 0.6 jobs are actually lost in the local economy, with the adjustment being concentrated in local incumbent firms in the industry having suffered the closure. Finally, this thesis studies the effects of big-box store openings, usually located in out-of-town sites, on grocery stores, which are typically identified as city centre consumption amenities. Using an RDD analysis and focusing on the food sector, this chapter makes use of a regulation aimed at restricting the entry of big-box stores as the source of exogenous variation. The results indicate that, after a big-box opens, the affected municipality gradually loses grocery stores, typically from the city centre, showing evidence of downtown…