Integration, Agglomeration and Welfare

28 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2004

See all articles by Michael Pflüger

Michael Pflüger

University of Passau; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Jens Suedekum

Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: October 2004

Abstract

This paper studies the social desirability of agglomeration and the efficiency arguments for policy intervention in a simple, analytically solvable "new economic geography" model with two trade integrating regions. The location pattern emerging as market equilibrium is "bubble-shaped", i.e. it features dispersion of firms both at high and low trade costs and stable equilibria with partial agglomeration of firms in addition to core-periphery equilibria for intermediate levels of trade costs. Our central finding is that the market equilibrium is characterised by over-agglomeration for high trade costs and under-agglomeration for low trade costs. For very high and very low levels of trade costs as well as for an intermediate range of trade costs, the market equilibrium yields the socially optimal degree of agglomeration. An important implication of this result is that, on efficiency grounds, regional policy should foster the dispersion of firms for a range of high trade costs only, but agglomeration for a range of low trade costs. Hence, regional policies, such as those pursued by the European Union which are aimed at fostering dispersion in general, are counterproductive when trade integration is deep enough.

Keywords: economic geography, optimal agglomeration, welfare, regional policy

JEL Classification: F12, F15, F22, R22, R50

Suggested Citation

Pflüger, Michael and Südekum, Jens, Integration, Agglomeration and Welfare (October 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=599864

Michael Pflüger (Contact Author)

University of Passau ( email )

Innstrasse 27
Passau, 94032
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Mohrenstrasse 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Jens Südekum

Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 1
Duesseldorf, NRW 40225
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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