Recent evidence of persistent city sizes following the obsolescence of historical advantages suggests that path dependence cannot be understood as the medium-run effect of legacy capital but instead as the long-run effect of equilibrium selection. In contrast, a different, recent literature uses stylized models in which fundamentals uniquely determine city size. The authors show that a commonly used model is inconsistent with evidence of long-run persistence in city sizes and propose several modifications that might allow for multiplicity and thus historical path dependence.
History and the Sizes of Cities
WP 15-06 — The authors contrast evidence of urban path dependence with efforts to analyze calibrated models of city sizes.