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How can cities be viewed as examples of economies of scale?

Why are people and economic activity concentrated in cities, rather than distributed evenly across a country? The fundamental reason must be related to the idea of economies of scale—that grouping economic activity is more productive in many cases than spreading it out. For example, cities provide a large group of nearby customers, so that businesses can produce at an efficient economy of scale. They also provide a large group of workers and suppliers, so that business can hire easily and purchase whatever specialized inputs they need. Many of the attractions of cities, like sports stadiums and museums, can operate only if they can draw on a large nearby population base. Cities are big enough to offer a wide variety of products, which is what many shoppers are looking for.

These factors are not exactly economies of scale in the narrow sense of the production function of a single firm, but they are related to growth in the overall size of population and market in an area. Cities are sometimes called “agglomeration economies.”

These agglomeration factors help to explain why every economy, as it develops, has an increasing proportion of its population living in urban areas. In the United States, about 80% of the population now lives in metropolitan areas (which include the suburbs around cities), compared to just 40% in 1900. However, in poorer nations of the world, including much of Africa, the proportion of the population in urban areas is only about 30%. One of the great challenges for these countries as their economies grow will be to manage the growth of the great cities that will arise.

If cities offer economic advantages that are a form of economies of scale, then why don’t all or most people live in one giant city? At some point, agglomeration economies must turn into diseconomies. For example, traffic congestion may reach a point where the gains from being geographically nearby are counterbalanced by how long it takes to travel. High densities of people, cars, and factories can mean more garbage and air and water pollution. Facilities like parks or museums may become overcrowded. There may be economies of scale for negative activities like crime, because high densities of people and businesses, combined with the greater impersonality of cities, make it easier for illegal activities as well as legal ones. The future of cities, both in the United States and in other countries around the world, will be determined by their ability to benefit from the economies of agglomeration and to minimize or counterbalance the corresponding diseconomies.

A more common case is illustrated in [link] (b), where the LRAC curve has a flat-bottomed area of constant returns to scale. In this situation, any firm with a level of output between 5,000 and 20,000 will be able to produce at about the same level of average cost. Given that the market will demand one million dishwashers per year at a price of $500, this market might have as many as 200 producers (that is, one million dishwashers divided by firms making 5,000 each) or as few as 50 producers (one million dishwashers divided by firms making 20,000 each). The producers in this market will range in size from firms that make 5,000 units to firms that make 20,000 units. But firms that produce below 5,000 units or more than 20,000 will be unable to compete, because their average costs will be too high. Thus, if we see an industry where almost all plants are the same size, it is likely that the long-run average cost curve has a unique bottom point as in [link] (a). However, if the long-run average cost curve has a wide flat bottom like [link] (b), then firms of a variety of different sizes will be able to compete with each other.

Questions & Answers

The type of elasticity if demand
Okonkwo Reply
aren't leaving too about bathrooms
SHADAB
what is money
Lawal Reply
what is supply
Lawal
the total number of goods present at a particular area at a particular time
Offset
the meaning of elasticity
Affum Reply
how to knw the break even point in business
Edmore Reply
hello
Marshal
hello
ghulam
hi
Kakay
hi
Ornill
hi
Bakari
Good evening
owi
when TOTAL COST & TOTAL REVENUE equal each other that's break even point
Bappy
How is everyone doing
Kakay
yaah
Chris
🤙🤙
Kakay
Good evening
Amarachi
how are you feeling
Sorie
hello
Marshal
hello
McClean
Hai👋👋
Noah
Hey
Andile
hello
Offset
what's up?
Offset
what are the importance of economics
sani Reply
hello
Marshal
welcome
Zaid
am new here
Kakay
hello I'm new here
Mona
your welcome
Bakari
thanks
Mona
where are you from?
Bakari
Hello I'm new here
Amarachi
what is development?
juwel Reply
it shows how many products customers are willing to purchase as the price of those product increase or decrease
Asha Reply
economics as a science
skima Reply
What is utility
Jimoh Reply
utility is a total satisfaction derives from a consumer.
Umar
what is ranking reveal choices?
Umar
wants satisfying power of a commodity is known as utility........
SHADAB
What is elasity
bohvy
Differentiate between scarcity and choice and explain how they effect perfectly elasiticity of demand and give relevant example with type of goods affected
PATRICK
Utility is ability if of available goods to satisfy human wants
PATRICK
any idea about equilibrium?
Umar
equilibrium where price and quantity demanded equals
Bappy
e
john
Equilibrium is when quantity demanded of goods and services is equal to supply to the market.
john
saaa.....
Bright
how about the profit....anybody can explain
Jeff
how about equilibrium of consumer?
Umar
bappy,john thank you the answers.
Umar
Utility Simply means the satisfaction a consumer derives from consuming a good or service
Hez
Pls can someone explain Elasticity of demand in a short terms
Osuayan
it's a degree of responsiveness to demand due to changes in prices
Ukpen
what is scarcity? pls help
Mikateko Reply
scarity is when there is a huge demand for certain goods and services but there's limited resources to actually produce those things
Mario
thank you
Kakay
what is development?
juwel
what is distribution
umar Reply
1.what is distribution? 2.what are factors affecting distribution? 3.releat what you are writing in the contest of economics and Nigeria situation
umar
what is demand
Obianyido Reply
things that are needed or wanted
Mario
The market for you In Ilorin has the following demand and supply equation Qd + 5p =9520 Qs =2.5p - 125 a) determine the equation price and quantity b) Explain the situation when the market price is below the equlibrum price
Rasheee Reply
solutions
Alex
What is scale of preference
Richmond Reply
Pls what is scale of preference
Richmond
scale of preference is a arrangement of individual wants in order of priority
Lamina
the arrangement of people want inoder of demand
Ada
explain whether decisions in microeconomics involve an opportunity cost
Sonali Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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