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The determinants of growth of employment subcenters in US metropolitan areas – A multilevel approach

Authors: Bastian Heider*, TU Dortmund University, Stefan Siedentop, ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Christian Gerten, ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: polycentric city regions, agglomeration economies, employment subcenters,
Session Type: Paper
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Numerous studies on have shown that during the second half of the 20th century multiple employment concentrations emerged outside the traditional CBDs of American as well as European metropolitan areas. These findings challenged the traditional view on urban spatial structure dominated by the monocentric city model and led to the emergence of new theories emphasizing on polycentricity as determining model of urban land use and resource allocation. While there exists an extensive literature on methods for the correct identification of employment subcenters, the (local) determinants of employment subcenter growth are remarkably under-researched. The empirical evidence on those factors is limited to a few case study regions, comprising only a very modest amount of local employment concentrations. In this paper, we aim to identify the determinants of industrial employment growth in 634 employment subcenters across the 50 largest metropolitan areas using multilevel regression models. Our approach is the first that examines the determinants of the emergence and growth employment subcenters across a comprehensive sample of city regions and incorporates explanatory variables at different spatial scales (metropolitan area and local employment subcenter). The empirical results are not only interesting from the perspective of analyzing the evolution of polycentric city regions, but also should enhance the general understanding of the nature (specialization vs. diversification) and geographical scale (regional vs. local) of agglomeration economies.

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