Here are a few interesting articles and research papers on the economic angle of one of my favorite subjects; the link between urbanization and economic, social and cultural progress.
URBANIZATION AND THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
2008, David E. Bloom, David Canning, Günther Fink, PGDA Working Paper No. 30
"The proportion of a country's population living in urban areas is highly correlated with its level of income. Urban areas offer economies of scale and richer market structures, and there is strong evidence that workers in urban areas are individually more productive, and earn more, than rural workers. However, rapid urbanization is also associated with crowding, environmental degradation, and other impediments to productivity. Overall, we find no evidence that the level of urbanization affects the rate of economic growth. Our findings weaken the rationale for either encouraging or discouraging urbanization as part of a strategy for economic growth."
THE PRODUCTIVITY OF CITIES
1975, Leo Sveikauskas, The Quarterly Journal of Economics
"This paper examines one possible reason for the prevalence of large cities; we consider the possibility that productivity may be systematically higher in large urban centers.' The empirical evidence indicates that a doubling of city size is typically associated with a 5.98 percent increase in labor productivity. These productivity gains are likely to be a central influence on the existence and prevalence of large cities."
SETTLEMENT SCALING AND INCREASING RETURNS IN AN ANCIENT SOCIETY
2015, Scott G. Ortman, Andrew H. F. Cabaniss, Jennie O. Sturm, Luís M. A. Bettencourt, Science Advances
"A key property of modern cities is increasing returns to scale—the finding that many socioeconomic outputs increase more rapidly than their population size. Recent theoretical work proposes that this phenomenon is the result of general network effects typical of human social networks embedded in space and, thus, is not necessarily limited to modern settlements. (...) these results provide evidence that the essential processes that lead to increasing returns in contemporary cities may have characterized human settlements throughout history, and demonstrate that increasing returns do not require modern forms of political or economic organization."
NEW IDEAS IN THE AIR: CITIES AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
2014, GERALD A. CARLINO, Business Review
"While many factors contribute to growth, economists believe that educating workers plays a critical role. (...) For example, the collaborative effort of many educated workers in a common enterprise may lead to invention and innovation that sustains the growth of the enterprise. Some economists believe there is an important link between national economic growth and the concentration of more highly educated people in cities.These economists argue that the knowledge spillovers associated with increased education can actually serve as an engine of growth for local and national economies. They also argue that the concentration of people in cities enhances these spillovers by creating an environment in which ideas flow quickly amid face-to-face contact."
DO BIGGER CITIES CONTRIBUTE TO ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SURROUNDING AREAS?
2011, Yan Liu, School of Economics, Fudan University. Xingfeng Wang, China Academy of Urban Planning & Design. Jianfeng Wu, School of Economics, Fudan University
"This paper focuses on the role of city interaction in influencing local economic growth using county-level data in China. (...)The empirical evidence in this paper illustrates that higher-tier cities have positive effects on economic growth for nearby counties, suggesting the dominant growth spillover effect over agglomeration shadow effect. This analysis also reveals the negative effect of institutional barriers associated with spatial deprivation and local protectionism on the interrelationship between a higher-tiered city and its neighboring counties."
Reducing Potentially Excess Deaths from the Five Leading Causes of Death in the Rural United States
Garcia MC, Faul M, Massetti G, et al. Reducing Potentially Excess Deaths from the. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-2):1–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6602a1
"In 2014, the all-cause age-adjusted death rate in the United States reached a historic low of 724.6 per 100,000 population (1). However, mortality in rural (nonmetropolitan) areas of the United States has decreased at a much slower pace, resulting in a widening gap between rural mortality rates (830.5) and urban mortality rates (704.3)
Barriers to health care access result in unmet health care needs that include, but are not limited to, a lack of preventive and screening services, treatment of illnesses (25) and timely urgent and emergency services (26). Residents of rural areas experience many of these barriers. Specifically, rural counties in the United States have a higher uninsured rate (27); experience health care workforce shortages (approximately only 11 percent of all physicians choose to practice in rural settings) (28); often lack subspecialty care (e.g., oncology), critical care units, or emergency facilities (29); have limited transportation options; and experience longer time to services caused by distance (26). Differential access to quality health care (25), including timely access, likely contributes to rural-urban gaps in mortality rates and potentially excess deaths. For example, persons with CLRD and unmet health care needs in rural areas can experience serious life-threatening respiratory episodes, and the lack of timely access to emergency care could affect survival"