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CEP discussion paper
Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012
Guy Michaels and Ferdinand Rauch
November 2013
Paper No' CEPDP1248:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: R11; N93; O18

Tags: economic geography; economic history; path dependence; transportation

Do locational fundamentals 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 still persists today. The resetting of Britain's urban network gave it better access to naturally navigable waterways when this was important, while many French towns remained without such access.

'Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012*', Guy Michaels and Ferdinand Rauch, The Economic Journal, Volume 128, Issue 608, February 2018