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The Economics of Urban Density

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  • Gilles Duranton
  • Diego Puga

Abstract

Density boosts productivity and innovation, improves access to goods and services, reduces typical travel distances, encourages energy efficient construction and transport, and allows broader sharing of scarce urban amenities. However, density is also synonymous with crowding and makes living and moving in cities more costly. We explore the appropriate measurement of density and describe how it is both a cause and a consequence of the evolution of cities. We then discuss whether and how policy should target density and why, in practice, the tradeoff between its pros and cons is unhappily resolved by both market and political forces.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2020. "The Economics of Urban Density," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 3-26, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:34:y:2020:i:3:p:3-26
    DOI: 10.3886/E119268V1
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.34.3.3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Albalate & Germà Bel & Ferran A. Mazaira-Font, 2020. "Geography and Regional Economic Growth: The high cost of deviating from nature," IREA Working Papers 202010, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Jul 2020.
    2. Cho, Seung Jin & Lee, Jun Yeong & Winters, John V., 2020. "Employment Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic across Metropolitan Status and Size," IZA Discussion Papers 13468, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Eduardo Gutiérrez & Enrique Moral-Benito & Roberto Ramos & Daniel Oto-Peralías, 2020. "The spatial distribution of population in Spain: an anomaly in european perspective," Working Papers 2028, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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