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Subways and urban growth: evidence from earth

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  • Gonzalez-Navarro, Marco
  • Turner, Matthew A.

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between the extent of a city’s subway network, its population and its spatial configuration. To accomplish this investigation, for the 632 largest cities in the world, we construct panel data describing the extent of each of the 138 subway systems in these cities, their population, and measures of centralization calculated from lights at night data. These data indicate that large cities are more likely to have subways, but that subways have an economically insignificant effect on urban population growth. Consistent with economic theory and with other studies of the effects of transportation improvements on cities, our data also indicate that subways cause cities to be more decentralized. For a subset of subway cities we also observe panel data describing subway and bus ridership. We find that a 10% increase in subway extent causes about a 6% increase in subway ridership and has no effect on bus ridership. Consistent with the available literature describing the effect of roads on cities, our results are consistent with subways having a larger effect on the configuration of cities than on their sizes, and with subways having a larger effect on discretionary than commute travel.

Suggested Citation

  • Gonzalez-Navarro, Marco & Turner, Matthew A., 2016. "Subways and urban growth: evidence from earth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 66535, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:66535
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/66535/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Redding, Stephen J. & Turner, Matthew A., 2015. "Transportation Costs and the Spatial Organization of Economic Activity," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2015. "The Economics of Density: Evidence From the Berlin Wall," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 2127-2189, November.
    3. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2011. "The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2616-2652, October.
    4. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, March.
    5. Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Wendland, Nicolai, 2011. "Fifty years of urban accessibility: The impact of the urban railway network on the land gradient in Berlin 1890-1936," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 77-88, March.
    6. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2006. "Causes of Sprawl: A Portrait from Space," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 587-633.
    7. Gilles Duranton & Matthew A. Turner, 2012. "Urban Growth and Transportation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1407-1440.
    8. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen, 2005. "Valuing rail access using transport innovations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 148-169, January.
    9. 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.
    10. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2012. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 994-1028, April.
    11. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805.
    12. Billings, Stephen B., 2011. "Estimating the value of a new transit option," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 525-536.
    13. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
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    Cited by:

    1. Avner,Paolo & Mehndiratta,Shomik Raj & Viguie,Vincent & Hallegatte,Stephane, 2017. "Buses, houses or cash ? socio-economic, spatial and environmental consequences of reforming public transport subsidies in Buenos Aires," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8166, The World Bank.
    2. Mayer, Thierry & Trevien, Corentin, 2017. "The impact of urban public transportation evidence from the Paris region," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-21.
    3. Rainald Borck, 2017. "Public Transport and Urban Pollution," CESifo Working Paper Series 6606, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Seungwoo Chin & Matthew E. Kahn & Hyungsik Roger Moon, 2017. "Estimating the Gains from New Rail Transit Investment: A Machine Learning Tree Approach," NBER Working Papers 23326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nicolas Gendron-Carrier & Marco Gonzalez-Navarro & Stefano Polloni & Matthew A. Turner, 2018. "Subways and Urban Air Pollution," NBER Working Papers 24183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Pfeifer, Gregor & Wahl, Fabian & Marczak, Martyna, 2016. "Illuminating the world cup effect: Night lights evidence from South Africa," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 16-2016, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    subways; public transit; urban growth; urban decentralization;

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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