Discussion paper

DP15470 Prime locations

We harness big data to detect prime locations—large clusters of knowledge-based tradable services—in 125 global cities and track changes in the within-city geography of prime service jobs over a century. Prime services are less spatially concentrated and prime locations are farther away from historic cores in historically smaller cities that did not develop early public transit networks. We rationalize these novel stylized facts empirically and theoretically. External returns to scale give rise to multiple equilibria in the city-internal distribution of prime services. The resilience of historic prime locations in historically large cities originates at least partially from endogenous durable transport networks.


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