NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What is Different About Urbanization in Rich and Poor Countries? Cities in Brazil, China, India and the United States

Juan Pablo Chauvin, Edward Glaeser, Yueran Ma, Kristina Tobio

NBER Working Paper No. 22002
Issued in February 2016
NBER Program(s):DEV, LS

Are the well-known facts about urbanization in the United States also true for the developing world? We compare American metropolitan areas with comparable geographic units in Brazil, China and India. Both Gibrat’s Law and Zipf’s Law seem to hold as well in Brazil as in the U.S., but China and India look quite different. In Brazil and China, the implications of the spatial equilibrium hypothesis, the central organizing idea of urban economics, are not rejected. The India data, however, repeatedly rejects tests inspired by the spatial equilibrium assumption. One hypothesis is that the spatial equilibrium only emerges with economic development, as markets replace social relationships and as human capital spreads more widely. In all four countries there is strong evidence of agglomeration economies and human capital externalities. The correlation between density and earnings is stronger in both China and India than in the U.S., strongest in China. In India the gap between urban and rural wages is huge, but the correlation between city size and earnings is modest. The cross-sectional relationship between area-level skills and both earnings and area-level growth are also stronger in the developing world than in the U.S. The forces that drive urban success seem similar in the rich and poor world, even if limited migration and difficult housing markets make it harder for a spatial equilibrium to develop.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the May 2016 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22002

Published: Juan Pablo Chauvin & Edward Glaeser & Yueran Ma & Kristina Tobio, 2016. "What is Different About Urbanization in Rich and Poor Countries? Cities in Brazil, China, India and the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, . citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Datt, Ravallion, and Murgai w21983 Growth, Urbanization and Poverty Reduction in India
Glaeser, Ponzetto, and Zou w21794 Urban Networks: Connecting Markets, People, and Ideas
Glaeser w19745 A World of Cities: The Causes and Consequences of Urbanization in Poorer Countries
Billings, Deming, and Ross w21962 Partners in Crime: Schools, Neighborhoods and the Formation of Criminal Networks
Hvide and Jones w22057 University Innovation and the Professor's Privilege
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us