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The economic effects of density: A synthesis

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  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M.
  • Pietrostefani, Elisabetta

Abstract

This paper synthesises the state of knowledge on the economic effects of density. We consider 15 outcome categories and 202 estimates of density elasticities from 102 studies. More than 50% of these estimates have not been previously published and have been provided by authors on request or inferred from published results in auxiliary analyses. We contribute own estimates of density elasticities of 16 distinct outcome variables that belong to categories where the evidence base is thin, inconsistent or non-existent. Along with a critical discussion of the quality and the quantity of the evidence base we present a set of recommended elasticities. Applying them to a scenario that roughly corresponds to an average high-income city, we find that a 10% increase in density in per capita and year terms is associated with a $140 increase in wage and a $243 increase in rent. The decrease in real wage net of taxes of $171 is partially compensated for by an aggregate amenity effect of $106 and there is a positive external welfare effect of $29. Density has important positive amenity and resource implications, but also appears to create a scarcity rent, which harms renters and first-time buyers.

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  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Pietrostefani, Elisabetta, 2017. "The economic effects of density: A synthesis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 83628, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:83628
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    Cited by:

    1. Dascher, Kristof, 2019. "Function Follows Form," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 131-140.
    2. repec:eee:regeco:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:304-315 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Felipe Carozzi & Sefi Roth, 2019. "Dirty Density: Air Quality and the Density of American Cities," CEP Discussion Papers dp1635, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Kinne, Jan & Resch, Bernd, 2017. "Analysing and predicting micro-location patterns of software firms," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-063, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    5. repec:eee:regeco:v:77:y:2019:i:c:p:141-154 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    compact; city; density; meta-analysis; elasticity; urban;

    JEL classification:

    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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