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We investigate whether an aging population may challenge the supremacy of large working cities. To this end, we develop an economic geography model with two types of individuals (workers and retirees) and two sectors (local services and manufacturing). Workers produce and consume; the elderly consume only. As a result, the mobility decision of workers is driven by both the wage gap and the cost-of-living gap, unlike the elderly who react to the differences in the cost of living only. We show that the return of pre-industrial urban system dominated by rentier cities does not seem to be on the agenda. Quite the opposite, the future of large working cities is still bright, the reason being that today's urban costs act as a strong force that prevents a large share of local services and manufacturing firms from following the rentiers in the elderly cities, while the supply of differentiated b2c services impede their complete separation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: INRA, UMR1302, 4 allée Adolphe Bobierre - CS 61103, 35011 Rennes cedex, France., Email: 2: CORE-Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium; PSE, France; and CEPR, 34, Voie du Roman Pays, B-1348 Louvain la Neuve, Belgium., Email:

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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