Founding of new towns in Sweden and China
Establishment of new towns has been at the core of most urban planning campaigns throughout human civilization. Even recently policymakers have made efforts to create new urban areas in the name of distributing economic growth.
The biggest example we can talk about in this article is China. In the 1980s the country started a large scale urban planning exercise. The aim of the Chinese policymakers was to find a place for the bulging urban population in the Asian Country, China.
Therefore, the Chinese policymakers built new towns to house the residents. At that time, Western media criticized the Chinese policy makers stating that they were constructing “ghost towns” or towns which were looking for populations.
A number of policy analysts have indicated that it is too earlier to say whether the Chinese attempts in urban planning is a success or a failure. It is a wait and see situation. Long-run historical data indicates that man-made urban areas can also succeed albeit at a slower rate than urban areas with natural reasons for their foundations.
Elsewhere, Swedish Kings did something similar to Chinese Urban planning. They simply created towns in areas with no geographic advantages. They assumed that once the towns were in place, they would attract people. This was the central guiding principle. Geographic fundamentals were simply pushed aside and the kings brought on board a fresh thinking.
If rulers can coordinate investments on certain spots and make people move there, the towns will persist even if the location is suboptimal. How such towns have persisted, even after their initial advantage has become obsolete, has recently been investigated by a growing literature (Bleakley and Lin 2012, Michaels and Rauch 2016).