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Comparing cities in developed and developing countries: Population, land area, building height and crowding

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  • Jedwab, Remi
  • Loungani, Prakash
  • Yezer, Anthony

Abstract

Historically, richer countries have had larger cities than poorer countries. Today, urban giants are no longer concentrated in rich countries. However, there are clear differences in physical city characteristics associated with country incomes. These differences are easily reconciled mathematically as population is the product of land area, structure space per unit land (i.e., heights), and population per unit interior space (i.e., crowding). This paper explores how these components have changed for the whole world and what remains of the association between income and city development using a combination of harmonized old and new databases. We document that cities in richer countries are large because they build “out” and build “up”. Cities in poorer countries have become as large because they have crowded “in”. Therefore, similar city sizes now hide stark differences in physical urban development. We also show how the Standard Urban Model can account for both similarities and differences in physical urban development across countries

Suggested Citation

  • Jedwab, Remi & Loungani, Prakash & Yezer, Anthony, 2021. "Comparing cities in developed and developing countries: Population, land area, building height and crowding," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:86:y:2021:i:c:s0166046220302945
    DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2020.103609
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Urbanization; Cities; Urban giants; Population; Physical urban development; Building heights; Housing; Land expansion; Sprawl; Standard urban model;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • 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
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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