We investigate how alternative ways of modelling trade costs affect the main results of "new" economic geography. In order to do so, we compare the impacts of falling transport costs and decreasing tariffs on the spatial distribution of economic activities. Our analysis reveals that tariffs and transport costs largely play symmetric roles, in the sense that a decrease in either of them favours agglomeration. Yet, tariffs generate rents which, once redistributed or used to finance local public goods, make dispersion sustainable over a larger range of parameter values. Therefore, decreasing transport costs are more likely to trigger agglomeration than decreasing tariffs. Copyright (c) 2006 the author(s). Journal compilation (c) 2006 RSAI.
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