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Urban Development and Land Markets in Chennai, India


  • David E. Dowall

    () (Director, Institute of Urban and Regional Development, Department of City and Regional Planning, the University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1870)

  • Paavo Monkkonen

    () (Department of City and Regional Planning, the University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1870)


The metropolitan area of Chennai, India, presents an interesting case study on India’s transforming economy because it has a unique urban structure for an Indian city of its size. It has an extremely high population density at the city center that is becoming even more crowded. It is also experiencing rapid, but low-density, expansion at the periphery. This paper documents Chennai’s spatial development with detailed data on land use, population density, and land values. A hedonic regression on the price of land suggests that de facto policy differences between political jurisdictions have had a significant effect on land prices. However, the data presented in this paper suggest that land policy reforms in Chennai have been successful in reducing some of the sprawling urban development patterns evident in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Nevertheless, policymakers in Chennai continue to face the double challenge of an extremely dense urban core combined with extensive urban growth.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Dowall & Paavo Monkkonen, 2008. "Urban Development and Land Markets in Chennai, India," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 11(2), pages 142-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:ire:issued:v:11:n:02:2008:p:142-165

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bertaud, Alain & Brueckner, Jan K., 2005. "Analyzing building-height restrictions: predicted impacts and welfare costs," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 109-125, March.
    2. Charles Leung & Sam Tang & Nicolaas Groenewold, 2006. "Growth Volatility and Technical Progress: A Simple Rent-seeking Model," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 88(2), pages 159-178, August.
    3. Edwin S. Mills & Jee Peng Tan, 1980. "A Comparison of Urban Population Density Functions in Developed and Developing Countries," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 17(3), pages 313-321, October.
    4. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 389-430.
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    More about this item


    South Asia; India; Urban Spatial Structure; Population Density; Land Markets; Land Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • L85 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Real Estate Services


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