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The making of the modern metropolis: evidence from London

Heblich, Stephan, Redding, Stephen and Sturm, Daniel ORCID: 0000-0001-6408-8089 (2020) The making of the modern metropolis: evidence from London. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 135 (4). 2059 - 2133. ISSN 0033-5533

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Identification Number: 10.1093/qje/qjaa014


Using newly constructed spatially disaggregated data for London from 1801 to 1921, we show that the invention of the steam railway led to the first large-scale separation of workplace and residence. We show that a class of quantitative urban models is remarkably successful in explaining this reorganization of economic activity. We structurally estimate one of the models in this class and find substantial agglomeration forces in both production and residence. In counterfactuals, we find that removing the whole railway network reduces the population and the value of land and buildings in London by up to 51.5% and 53.3% respectively, and decreases net commuting into the historical center of London by more than 300,000 workers.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Economics
Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
JEL classification: O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O18 - Regional, Urban, and Rural Analyses
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R1 - General Regional Economics > R12 - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R4 - Transportation Systems > R40 - General
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2020 09:57
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2022 23:00

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