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      Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Cities, Human Activities, Life Style, Urbanization

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          Abstract

          Humanity has just crossed a major landmark in its history with the majority of people now living in cities. Cities have long been known to be society's predominant engine of innovation and wealth creation, yet they are also its main source of crime, pollution, and disease. The inexorable trend toward urbanization worldwide presents an urgent challenge for developing a predictive, quantitative theory of urban organization and sustainable development. Here we present empirical evidence indicating that the processes relating urbanization to economic development and knowledge creation are very general, being shared by all cities belonging to the same urban system and sustained across different nations and times. Many diverse properties of cities from patent production and personal income to electrical cable length are shown to be power law functions of population size with scaling exponents, beta, that fall into distinct universality classes. Quantities reflecting wealth creation and innovation have beta approximately 1.2 >1 (increasing returns), whereas those accounting for infrastructure display beta approximately 0.8 <1 (economies of scale). We predict that the pace of social life in the city increases with population size, in quantitative agreement with data, and we discuss how cities are similar to, and differ from, biological organisms, for which beta<1. Finally, we explore possible consequences of these scaling relations by deriving growth equations, which quantify the dramatic difference between growth fueled by innovation versus that driven by economies of scale. This difference suggests that, as population grows, major innovation cycles must be generated at a continually accelerating rate to sustain growth and avoid stagnation or collapse.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Environment and development. Sustainability science.

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            Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation

             X. Gabaix (1999)
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              A general model for ontogenetic growth.

              Several equations have been proposed to describe ontogenetic growth trajectories for organisms justified primarily on the goodness of fit rather than on any biological mechanism. Here, we derive a general quantitative model based on fundamental principles for the allocation of metabolic energy between maintenance of existing tissue and the production of new biomass. We thus predict the parameters governing growth curves from basic cellular properties and derive a single parameterless universal curve that describes the growth of many diverse species. The model provides the basis for deriving allometric relationships for growth rates and the timing of life history events.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                17438298
                1852329
                10.1073/pnas.0610172104

                Chemistry

                Cities, Human Activities, Life Style, Urbanization

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