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Zoning, Returns to Scale, and the Value of Undeveloped Land


  • Brownstone, David
  • De Vany, Arthur


When land markets are incomplete, parcels can be scaled to make control compatible with use and to internalize externalities. The authors show that an arbitrage-proof equilibrium implies an increasing and strictly concave relationship between the value and size of land parcels. Undeveloped land sales in southern California strongly confirm the theoretical relationship. The authors find that zoning primarily restricts the conversion of land from agriculture to residential and industrial uses relative to the competitive equilibrium. The scale of land units is an effective private instrument for providing compatible land use even in the presence of strong zoning. Copyright 1991 by MIT Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Brownstone, David & De Vany, Arthur, 1991. "Zoning, Returns to Scale, and the Value of Undeveloped Land," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 699-704, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:73:y:1991:i:4:p:699-704

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Ham, 1982. "Estimation of a Labour Supply Model with Censoring Due to Unemployment and Underemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(3), pages 335-354.
    2. Lang, Kevin, 1989. "Why was there mandatory retirement?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 127-136, June.
    3. Dickens, William T & Lundberg, Shelly J, 1993. "Hours Restrictions and Labor Supply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(1), pages 169-192, February.
    4. Bulow, Jeremy I & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy,Discrimination, and Keynesian Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 376-414, July.
    5. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1985. "Tied Wage-Hours Offers and the Endogeneity of Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 405-410, August.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1987. "The theory of equalizing differences," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 641-692 Elsevier.
    7. Ball, Laurence, 1990. "Intertemporal Substitution and Constraints on Labor Supply: Evidence from Panel Data," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 706-724, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeanty, Pierre Wilner & Kraybill, David S. & Libby, Lawrence W. & Sohngen, Brent, 2002. "Effects Of Local Development Pressure On Land Prices: A Spatial Economic Approach," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19767, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Hsieh, Wen-Hua & Irwin, Elena G. & Libby, Lawrence W., 2001. "The Effect Of Rural Zoning On The Allocation Of Land Use In Ohio," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20599, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    3. Nichols, Joseph B. & Oliner, Stephen D. & Mulhall, Michael R., 2013. "Swings in commercial and residential land prices in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 57-76.
    4. Liang Peng & Thomas Thibodeau, 2012. "Government Interference and the Efficiency of the Land Market in China," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 919-938, November.
    5. Miceli, Thomas J. & Munneke, Henry J. & Sirmans, C.F. & Turnbull, Geoffrey K., 2011. "A question of title: Property rights and asset values," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 499-507.
    6. Joseph B. Nichols & Stephen D. Oliner & Michael R. Mulhall, 2010. "Commercial and residential land prices across the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-16, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:5:p:432:d:69264 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Fiorenza Spalatro & Bill Provencher, 2001. "An Analysis of Minimum Frontage Zoning to Preserve Lakefront Amenities," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 77(4), pages 469-481.
    9. Hee Jin Yang & Jihoon Song & Mack Joong Choi, 2016. "Measuring the Externality Effects of Commercial Land Use on Residential Land Value: A Case Study of Seoul," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-15, April.
    10. Colwell, Peter F. & Munneke, Henry J., 1997. "The Structure of Urban Land Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 321-336, May.

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