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The Economics of Urban Density

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  • Gilles Duranton
  • Diego Puga

Abstract

Urban density boosts productivity and innovation, improves access to goods and services, reduces typical travel distances, encourages energy-efficient construction and transport, and facilitates sharing scarce amenities. However, density is also synonymous with crowding, makes living and moving in cities more costly, and concentrates exposure to pollution and disease. We explore the appropriate measurement of density and describe how it is both a cause and a consequence of the evolution of cities. We then discuss whether and how policy should target density and why the trade-off between its pros and cons is unhappily resolved by market and political forces.

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  • Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2020. "The Economics of Urban Density," NBER Working Papers 27215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27215
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    JEL classification:

    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R32 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Other Spatial Production and Pricing Analysis

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