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Urban scaling in Europe

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      Abstract

      Over the last few decades, in disciplines as diverse as economics, geography and complex systems, a perspective has arisen proposing that many properties of cities are quantitatively predictable due to agglomeration or scaling effects. Using new harmonized definitions for functional urban areas, we examine to what extent these ideas apply to European cities. We show that while most large urban systems in Western Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) approximately agree with theoretical expectations, the small number of cities in each nation and their natural variability preclude drawing strong conclusions. We demonstrate how this problem can be overcome so that cities from different urban systems can be pooled together to construct larger datasets. This leads to a simple statistical procedure to identify urban scaling relations, which then clearly emerge as a property of European cities. We compare the predictions of urban scaling to Zipf's law for the size distribution of cities and show that while the former holds well the latter is a poor descriptor of European cities. We conclude with scenarios for the size and properties of future pan-European megacities and their implications for the economic productivity, technological sophistication and regional inequalities of an integrated European urban system.

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      Most cited references 13

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

      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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        The size, scale, and shape of cities.

         Michael Batty (2008)
        Despite a century of effort, our understanding of how cities evolve is still woefully inadequate. Recent research, however, suggests that cities are complex systems that mainly grow from the bottom up, their size and shape following well-defined scaling laws that result from intense competition for space. An integrated theory of how cities evolve, linking urban economics and transportation behavior to developments in network science, allometric growth, and fractal geometry, is being slowly developed. This science provides new insights into the resource limits facing cities in terms of the meaning of density, compactness, and sprawl, and related questions of sustainability. It has the potential to enrich current approaches to city planning and replace traditional top-down strategies with realistic city plans that benefit all city dwellers.
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          The origins of scaling in cities.

          Despite the increasing importance of cities in human societies, our ability to understand them scientifically and manage them in practice has remained limited. The greatest difficulties to any scientific approach to cities have resulted from their many interdependent facets, as social, economic, infrastructural, and spatial complex systems that exist in similar but changing forms over a huge range of scales. Here, I show how all cities may evolve according to a small set of basic principles that operate locally. A theoretical framework was developed to predict the average social, spatial, and infrastructural properties of cities as a set of scaling relations that apply to all urban systems. Confirmation of these predictions was observed for thousands of cities worldwide, from many urban systems at different levels of development. Measures of urban efficiency, capturing the balance between socioeconomic outputs and infrastructural costs, were shown to be independent of city size and might be a useful means to evaluate urban planning strategies.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Santa Fe Institute , 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
            [2 ]School of Sustainability, Arizona State University , 800 Cady Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
            Author notes
            Journal
            J R Soc Interface
            J R Soc Interface
            RSIF
            royinterface
            Journal of the Royal Society Interface
            The Royal Society
            1742-5689
            1742-5662
            March 2016
            March 2016
            : 13
            : 116
            26984190 4843676 10.1098/rsif.2016.0005 rsif20160005
            © 2016 The Authors.

            Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

            Product
            Funding
            Funded by: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000870;
            Award ID: 13-105749-000-USP
            Funded by: Army Research Office, http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000183;
            Award ID: W911NF1210097
            Categories
            1004
            120
            69
            30
            Life Sciences–Mathematics interface
            Research Article
            Custom metadata
            March, 2016

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