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Resetting the urban network: 117-2012

Michaels, Guy ORCID: 0000-0002-8796-4536 and Rauch, Ferdinand (2017) Resetting the urban network: 117-2012. The Economic Journal, 128 (608). pp. 378-412. ISSN 0013-0133

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ecoj.12424


Do fixed geographic features such as coastlines and rivers determine town locations, or can historical events trap towns in unfavourable locations for centuries? We examine the effects on town locations of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, which temporarily ended urbanization in Britain, but not in France. As urbanization recovered, medieval towns were more often found in Roman-era town locations in France than in Britain, and this difference persists today. The resetting of Britain’s urban network gave it better access to natural navigable waterways when this was important, while many French towns remained without such access. We show that towns without coastal access grew more slowly in both Britain and France from 1200-1800, suggesting that towns that remained in locations without coastal access missed out on growth opportunities.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Royal Economic Society
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N9 - Regional and Urban History > N93 - Europe: Pre-1913
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 > R11 - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, and Changes
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2016 15:56
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:28

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