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The economics of skyscrapers: A synthesis

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  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel
  • Barr, Jason

Abstract

This paper provides a synthesis of the state of knowledge on the economics of skyscrapers. First, we document how vertical urban growth has gained pace over the course of the 20th century. Second, we lay out a simple theoretical model of optimal building heights in a competitive market to rationalize this trend. Third, we provide estimates of a range of parameters that shape the urban height profile along with a summary of the related theoretical and empirical literature. Fourth, we discuss factors outside the competitive market framework that explain the rich variation in building height over short distances, such as durability of the structures, height competition, and building regulations. Fifth, we suggest priority areas for future research into the vertical dimension of cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel & Barr, Jason, 2020. "The economics of skyscrapers: A synthesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 14987, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14987
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    Cited by:

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    7. Michael D. Eriksen & Anthony W. Orlando, 2022. "Returns to Scale in Residential Construction: The Marginal Impact of Building Height," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 50(2), pages 534-564, June.

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    Keywords

    density; economics; History; skyscraper; urban;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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