Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories

25 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2020

See all articles by Remi Jedwab

Remi Jedwab

George Washington University - Department of Economics

Noel D. Johnson

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

We draw on theories and empirical findings from urban economics to explore and explain patterns of city growth in the Middle Ages (c. 800-1500 CE). We discuss how agricultural development and physical geography determined the location and size of cities during the medieval period. We also consider the relative importance of economies of scale, agglomeration, and human capital spillovers in medieval cities and discuss how their growth was limited by disamenities and constraints on mobility. We discuss how medieval cities responded to shocks such as the Black Death and describe how institutions became increasingly important in determining their trajectories. Avenues for future research are also laid out.

Keywords: Agglomeration effects, Asia, City Growth, Europe, Food Surplus Hypothesis, institutions, LaborMobility, Medieval Era, Pandemics, Urbanization

JEL Classification: N9, N93, N95, R11, R12, R19

Suggested Citation

Jedwab, Remi and Johnson, Noel D. and Koyama, Mark, Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories (May 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14828, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3615591

Remi Jedwab (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, D.C., DC
United States

Noel D. Johnson

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mkoyama2/About.html

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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