Agglomeration Economies in Classical Music

Discussion Papers of Business and Economics, 13/2013, University of Southern Denmark

61 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2013

Date Written: September 17, 2013


This study investigates agglomeration effects for classical music production in a wide range of cities for a global sample of composers born between 1750 and 1899. Theory suggests a trade-off between agglomeration economies (peer effects) and diseconomies (peer crowding). I test this hypothesis using historical data on composers and employ a unique instrumental variable – a measure of birth centrality, calculated as the average distance between a composer’s birthplace and the birthplace of his peers. I find a strong causal impact of peer group size on the number of important compositions written in a given year. Consistent with theory, the productivity gain eventually decreases and is characterized by an inverted U-shaped relationship. These results are robust to a large series of tests, including checks for quality of peers, city characteristics, various measures of composers’ productivity, and across different estimations in which also time-varying birth centrality measures are used as instrumental variables.

Keywords: agglomeration economies, density effects, peer effects, productivity, urban history, cities, composer

JEL Classification: D24, J24, N90, R12, Z11

Suggested Citation

Borowiecki, Karol, Agglomeration Economies in Classical Music (September 17, 2013). Discussion Papers of Business and Economics, 13/2013, University of Southern Denmark, Available at SSRN: or

Karol Borowiecki (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000

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