Population, diversity, and restaurants: trends in the geography of cuisine variety in the Netherlands

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Over the past two decades, research in regional science has paid considerable attention to the benefits of urban density and proximity, even though there has been tremendous progress within the same period in technologies that ease the friction of distance (e.g. mobile communication, high-speed internet). Many scholars argue that in spite of falling transportation costs for tradable goods and the proliferation of information and communication technology cities will always have a vital edge in facilitating face-to-face communication. We argue that even if this is the case, there still remains a host of benefits that have come to rely less on urban density and this will have implications for the future of cities. In the current study we focus on one particular type of benefit associated with urban size and density – namely, the availability of a specialized array of urban amenities. More precisely, we use regional data on the distribution of restaurants in the Netherlands, and differentiate them according to their cuisine type. We explore how the presence of cuisine variety relates to population density and diversity, and whether these relationships vary across different city sizes. We find that the explanatory power of population density and diversity diminishes over time, especially in smaller cities. We argue that these trends support the hypothesis that a reduction of spatial information frictions reduces the need for urban density, as benefits associated with larger cities – such as cuisine variety – can be increasingly found in smaller cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-88
JournalRegional Statistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • agglomeration
  • economies of consumption
  • local product variety
  • restaurants
  • information technology
  • Netherlands

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