Studies in the Structure of the Urban Economy

Studies in the Structure of the Urban Economy

Studies in the Structure of the Urban Economy

Studies in the Structure of the Urban Economy

Excerpt

Urban economics is a neophyte among specialties in economics. There is therefore a relatively wide range of views concerning the questions that should be asked, the tools appropriate for analysis, and the assumptions that will best approximate the phenomena under study. Most urban specialists would probably agree that the purpose of urban areas, broadly interpreted, is to facilitate production and exchange by proximate locations of producers and consumers. In this view, a city that grows as a seat of government is to be explained by the advantages of proximity to agencies producing public services and by the advantages to related private activities of locating close to the seat of government. Likewise, a great industrial city grows around a port because it is profitable to produce at a place where interregional or international trade is cheap. The extent and spatial form of the resulting concentration of activity depend on a host of economic, institutional, technological, and geographical considerations.

In the United States and in most other western societies, land is allocated among alternative uses mainly in private markets, with more or less public regulation. In such societies, urban areas result mainly from locational decisions by large numbers of private producers and consumers, each attempting to further the self-interest of the decision-making group. The purpose of this monograph is to present a set of closely related studies of the ways that private markets determine urban structure in an economic setting such as that in the United States. Specifically, most of the studies focus on one aspect or another of the decentralization of urban areas that has been in progress for many decades.

Urban economics, like other specialties in economics, has both positive and normative aspects. Some of the most difficult and fundamental issues in urban economics have to do with the circumstances under which markets are an efficient means of resource allocation. The main focus of the monograph is positive economics. It is intended as a contribution to the understanding of market operations in an urban context. Nevertheless, there is theoretical analysis of market efficiency in two of the models that . . .

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