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Cities without land markets : location and land use in the socialist city


  • Bertaud, Alain
  • Renaud, Bertrand


The authors describe the structure of Russian cities after 70 years of Soviet development. This is the longest socialist experience on record and its results are of paramount interest to urban economists. In the absence of price signals and of economic incentives to recycle land over time, the administrative-command process has led to a startling pattern of land use. It's central feature is a perverse population density gradient, which rises as one moves away from the center of the city. (Driving from the center of Moscow, one passes through rings of Stalin-era, Krushchev-era, and then Brezhnev-era flats.) The Soviet city is also characterized by rusting factories in prime locations and high density residential areas in distant suburbs. Such a structure tends to maximize the economic and social inefficiency of the socialist city as well as its environmental ill effects. With market-oriented urban reform, real estate prices are now emerging. Their negative gradient signals again the massive scale of past land misallocation in the Soviet city. The experience of socialist cities is also a powerful warning about the ill effects of public ownership and the allocation of land to achieve the"socialization"of land rents.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertaud, Alain & Renaud, Bertrand, 1995. "Cities without land markets : location and land use in the socialist city," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1477, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1477

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    Cited by:

    1. Phillip J Bryson & Gary C Cornia & Gloria E Wheeler, 2004. "Fiscal Decentralization in the Czech and Slovak Republics: A Comparative Study of Moral Hazard," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 22(1), pages 103-113, February.
    2. Galal, Ahmed & Razzaz, Omar, 2001. "Reforming land and real estate markets," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2616, The World Bank.
    3. Duebel, Hans-Joachim & Brzeski, W. Jan & Hamilton, Ellen, 2006. "Rental choice and housing policy realignment in transition : post-privatization challenges in the Europe and Central Asia region," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3884, The World Bank.
    4. Elena Koncheva & Nikolay Zalesskiy, 2016. "Spatial Development of the Largest Russian Cities During the Post-Soviet Period: Orienting Towards Transit or Maintaining Soviet Trends," HSE Working papers WP BRP 04/URB/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    5. Sock-Yong Phang & David Lee & Alan Cheong & Kok-Fai Phoon & Karol Wee, 2014. "Housing Policies In Singapore: Evaluation Of Recent Proposals And Recommendations For Reform," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 59(03), pages 1-14.
    6. Steven Plaut & Egita Uzulena, 2006. "Architectural Design and the Value of Housing in Riga, Latvia," International Real Estate Review, Global Social Science Institute, vol. 9(1), pages 112-131.
    7. Ingram, Gregory K., 1997. "Patterns of metropolitan development : what have we learned?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1841, The World Bank.
    8. Kim, Annette M., 2007. "North versus South: The Impact of Social Norms in the Market Pricing of Private Property Rights in Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 2079-2095, December.


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