Document Type


Publication Date



How and why do agglomerations emerge? While economic historians emphasize trade and economic geographers emphasize variety, we still don’t understand the role of coordination. I fill this gap by extending the model of Fudenberg and Ellison (2003) to formalize Smith’s (1776) theory of agglomeration. I then test the model in a laboratory experiment and find individuals tend to coalesce purely to coordinate exchange, with more agglomeration when there is a larger variety of goods in the economy. I also find that tying individuals to the land reduces agglomeration, but magnifies the effect of variety.


Working Paper 18-12



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.