Lost in Space: Population Growth in the American Hinterlands and Small Cities
Posted: 27 Oct 2008
Date Written: November 2008
The sources of urban agglomeration and the development of the urban system have been studied extensively. Despite the pivotal role of the hinterlands in theories of the development of the urban system, little attention has been paid to the effect of urban agglomeration in a developed, mature economy on growth in the hinterlands. Therefore, this study examines how proximity to urban agglomeration affects contemporary population growth (PopGr) in hinterland U.S. counties. Proximity to urban agglomeration is measured in terms of both distances to higher tiered areas in the urban hierarchy and proximity to market potential (MP). Particular attention is paid to whether periodic changes and trends in underlying conditions (e.g. technology or transport costs) have altered PopGr patterns in the hinterlands and small urban centers. Over the period 1950–2000, we find strong negative growth effects of distances to higher tiered urban areas, with significant, but lesser effects of distance to MP. Further, the costs of distance, if anything, appear to be increasing over time, consistent with a number of recent theories stressing the effect of new technology on the spatial distribution of activity in a mature urban system.
Keywords: agglomeration, new economic geography, urban hierarchy, population growth
JEL Classification: R110, R120, R230
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