Learning in Cities

25 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2000 Last revised: 7 Oct 2010

See all articles by Edward L. Glaeser

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 1997

Abstract

Alfred Marshall argues that industrial agglomerations exist in part because individuals can" learn skills from each other when they live and work in close proximity to one another. An" increasing amount of evidence suggests that the informational role of cities is a primary reason for" their continued existence. This paper formalizes Marshall's theory in a model where individuals" acquire skills by interacting with one another, and dense urban areas increase the speed of" interactions. The model predicts that cities will have a higher mean and higher variance of skills." Cities will attract young people who are not too risk averse and who benefit most from learning" (e.g. more patient people). Older, more skilled workers will stay in cities only if they can" internalize some of the benefits that their presence creates for young people. The level of" urbanization will rise when the demand for skills rises, when the ability to learn by imitation rises or when the level of health in the economy rises. Empirical evidence on urban wages supports the" learning view of cities and a variety of other implications of the theory are corroborated" empirically.

Suggested Citation

Glaeser, Edward L., Learning in Cities (November 1997). NBER Working Paper No. w6271. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226028

Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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