The Polycentric City

  • Yorgos Y. Papageorgiou
  • David Pines
Part of the Advances in Urban and Regional Economics book series (UREC, volume 1)


In this chapter we treat urban centres as facilities collectively used by the whole or part of the urban population. We employ the framework of club theory, which accounts for the collective use of facilities as a way of enhancing the utility level of club members. 1 We discuss the fundamentals of non-spatial club theory, and we extend it to the spatial domain. A single club in this context provides the analog of a monocentric city, while a system of clubs corresponds to a polycentric city. Although the spatial structure of the polycentric system we present here resembles that of chapter eight, in the sense that both are based on nested market areas and individuals patronise several centres in both, it differs with respect to spatial organisation because, unlike the polycentric city of chapter eight, no central facility here supplies more than a single collective good. We characterise the optimal size of such a system, and we explain why decentralisation must be undertaken at the level of the urban territory itself, rather than at the level of individual facilities as suggested by fiscal federalism. We then study in detail a simplified version of this model in order to understand what characterises the transition from a monocentric to a polycentric urban structure and what determines whether the location of a public facility will be central or peripheral.


Market Area Optimal Complex Collective Good Land Rent User Charge 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yorgos Y. Papageorgiou
    • 1
  • David Pines
    • 2
  1. 1.McMaster UniversityCanada
  2. 2.Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael

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