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I read a sentence as follows from a book by a Harvard professor(born in the U.S.A.):

Despite the fact that farming required more strenuous physical exertion than most urban jobs, the rural grain ration was set lower than in the cities.

I wonder if the last clause is grammatical since it is an adverbial modifier that follows lower than. I have never read such a combination before, and I thought lower than that in the cities seems more natural-sounding.

I read some articles about comparative constructions, for example this and this, and have not found a sentence with a similar structure.

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As a native speaker but not a grammarian, the original sentence is fine. Your version also makes sense but the that is unnecessary making the original slightly preferable.

The comparison is between the grain ration in rural areas and the grain ration in cities. By not mentioning grain ration again or that, it is implicit that the same item is being compared in the two areas.

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