Discussion paper

DP15470 Prime locations

Using establishment-level data for the three largest US metropolitan areas, big data for 125 global cities world-wide, and a methodology combining both, we delineate the densest clusters of economic activity. We show that---within cities---these prime locations concentrate 35\% of tradable services employment on 0.3\% of developable land. Although only 40\% of our sampled cities are monocentric, prime locations are---consistent with the theoretical workhorse urban models---the nuclei of distance gradients, even in polycentric cities. Cities with fewer prime locations further concentrate a larger tradable services share in them, underscoring the importance of agglomeration economies for those locations.


Ahlfeldt, G, T Albers and K Behrens (2022), ‘DP15470 Prime locations‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15470. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15470