We investigate whether plants inside and outside geographic clusters differ in their resilience to adverse economic shocks. To this end, we develop a bottom-up procedure to delimit clusters using Canadian geo-coded plant-level data. Focusing on the textile and clothing (T&C) sector and exploiting the series of dramatic changes faced by that sector between 2001 and 2013, we find little evidence that plants in T&C clusters are more resilient than plants outside clusters. Over the whole period, plants inside clusters are neither less likely to die nor more likely to adapt by switching their main line of business. However, in the industries the most exposed to the surge of Chinese imports after 2005, plants inside clusters die and exit less than others in the following 2 years.
Larger cities typically give rise to two opposite effects: tougher competition among firms and higher production costs. Using an urban model with substitutability of production factors and pro-competitive effects, I study product market responses to an increase in city population, land-use regulations, and commuting costs. I show that those responses depend on the land intensity in production. If the input share of land is low, a larger city attracts more firms setting lower prices, whereas for an intermediate land share, city expansion increases both the mass of firms and product prices. For a high land share, the mass of firms decreases with city size while product price increases. Softer land-use regulations and/or lower commuting costs reinforce pro-competitive effects, making city residents better-off via lower product prices and broader diversity.
We develop a model of monopolistic competition with a differentiated intermediate good and variable elasticity of technological substitution. The model allows to study the nature and origins of external increasing returns. We single out two sources of scale economies: specialization and competition. The former depends only on how TFP varies with input diversity, while the latter is fully captured by the behavior of the elasticity of substitution across inputs. This distinction gives rise to a full characterization of the rich array of competition regimes in our model. The necessary and sufficient conditions for each regime to occur are expressed in terms of the relationships between TFP and the elasticity of substitution as functions of the input diversity. Moreover, we demonstrate that, despite the folk wisdom resting on CES models, specialization economies are in general neither necessary nor sufficient for external increasing returns to emerge. This highlights the profound and non-trivial role of market competition in generating agglomeration economies and other phenomena driven by scale economies.