Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/89229
Authors: 
Motamed, Mesbah J.
Florax, Raymond J. G. M.
Masters, William A.
Year of Publication: 
2014
Series/Report no.: 
Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 14-002/VIII
Abstract: 
This paper addresses the timing of a location's historical transition from rural to urban activity. We test whether urbanization occurs sooner in places with higher agricultural potential and comparatively lower transport costs, using worldwide data that divide the earth's surface at half-degree intervals into 62,290 cells. From an independent estimate of each cell's rural and urban population history over the last 2,000 years, we identify the date at which each cell achieves various thresholds of urbanization. Controlling for unobserved heterogeneity across countries through fixed effects and using a variety of spatial econometric techniques, we find a robust association between earlier urbanization and agro-climatic suitability for cultivation, having seasonal frosts, better access to the ocean or navigable rivers, and lower elevation. These geographic correlations become smaller in magnitude as urbanization proceeds, and there is some variance in effect sizes across continents. Aggregating cells into countries, we show that an earlier urbanization date is associated with higher per capita income today.
Subjects: 
Economic growth
economic geography
urbanization
agriculture
transportation
JEL: 
C21
N50
O11
O18
R1
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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