Testing for Agglomeration Economies and Firm Selection in Spatial Productivity Differences: The case of Japan

Author Name KONDO Keisuke (Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. November 2016 16-E-098
Research Project RIETI Data Management Project
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First draft: November 2016
Revised: December 2017


This study explores why firms, on average, are more productive in larger cities. One major explanation is that the higher firm productivity in larger cities is the result of agglomeration economies. However, recent studies have proposed an alternative mechanism of selection; namely, tougher competition in larger cities forces less-productive firms to exit and, as a result, more-productive firms operate in such locations. To distinguish agglomeration economies from firm selection, this study applies a newly suggested quantile approach to the Japanese manufacturing sector. Overall, the empirical results show that agglomeration economies, rather than stronger selection in larger cities, better explain spatial productivity differences in the Japanese manufacturing sector. The findings also show that benefits from agglomeration economies in this sector have decreased as interregional accessibility has increased.