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Lectures on Urban Economics

Lectures on Urban Economics

Jan K. Brueckner
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Lectures on Urban Economics
    Book Description:

    Lectures on Urban Economics offers a rigorous but nontechnical treatment of major topics in urban economics. To make the book accessible to a broad range of readers, the analysis is diagrammatic rather than mathematical. Although nontechnical, the book relies on rigorous economic reasoning. In contrast to the cursory theoretical development often found in other textbooks, Lectures on Urban Economics offers thorough and exhaustive treatments of models relevant to each topic, with the goal of revealing the logic of economic reasoning while also teaching urban economics. Topics covered include reasons for the existence of cities, urban spatial structure, urban sprawl and land-use controls, freeway congestion, housing demand and tenure choice, housing policies, local public goods and services, pollution, crime, and quality of life. Footnotes throughout the book point to relevant exercises, which appear at the back of the book. These 22 extended exercises (containing 125 individual parts) develop numerical examples based on the models analyzed in the chapters. Lectures on Urban Economics is suitable for undergraduate use, as background reading for graduate students, or as a professional reference for economists and scholars interested in the urban economics perspective.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30030-8
    Subjects: Economics, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Why Cities Exist
    (pp. 1-22)

    In most countries, the population is highly concentrated in a spatial sense. For example, cities occupy only about 2 percent of the land area of the United States, with the rest vacant or inhabited at very low population densities. Even in countries that lack America’s wide-open spaces, spatial concentration of the population can be substantial, with much of the land vacant. This chapter identifies some forces that lead to the spatial concentration of population. Thus, it identifies forces that help to explain the existence of cities.

    Depending on their orientation, different social scientists would point to different explanations for the...

  5. 2 Analyzing Urban Spatial Structure
    (pp. 23-50)

    Looking out the airplane window, an airline passenger landing in New York or Chicago would see the features of urban spatial structure represented in a particularly dramatic fashion. In both of those cities, the urban center has a striking concentration of tall buildings, with building heights gradually falling as distance from the center increases. The tallest buildings in both cities are office buildings and other commercial structures, but the central areas also contain many tall residential buildings. Like the heights of the office buildings, the heights of these residential structures decrease moving away from the center, dropping to three and...

  6. 3 Modifications of the Urban Model
    (pp. 51-68)

    The urban model presented in chapter 2 imposed a number of simplifications so that simple conclusions could be derived. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce modifications to the model and appraise their separate effects. The first modification adds a second income group to the city, which then contains both “rich” and “poor” households. The second modification adds a freeway to the city’s transportation system, so that all commutes are no longer radial. The third modification introduces job sites (either widely dispersed employment locations or distinct subcenters) outside the central business district. The fourth modification explicitly recognizes the durability...

  7. 4 Urban Sprawl and Land-Use Controls
    (pp. 69-90)

    Strong sentiment against “urban sprawl” has emerged in the United States in recent years. Critics of sprawl argue that urban expansion consumes too much agricultural land, leading to a loss of amenity benefits from open space as well as a loss of scarce farmland. They also argue that the long commutes resulting from urban expansion create excessive traffic congestion and air pollution. In addition, they allege that growth at the urban fringe depresses the incentive for redevelopment of land closer to city centers, leading to decay of downtown areas. Some critics also claim that, by spreading people out, low-density suburban...

  8. 5 Freeway Congestion
    (pp. 91-114)

    Road congestion is a universal problem. Commuters and other drivers spend many hours each year stuck in slow-moving traffic on streets and freeways in cities around the world. The problem is severe in many U.S. cities and often worse in other countries, especially in less developed regions. The millions of hours of personal time that are lost as a result of congestion represent a large social cost.

    As was noted in chapter 4, road congestion involves an externality: each car slows down all the other cars on a congested roadway by a small amount, generating higher time costs for their...

  9. 6 Housing Demand and Tenure Choice
    (pp. 115-136)

    Housing is probably the most important commodity that consumers purchase. It provides essential shelter and an environment for many activities, most significantly the activity of raising a family. Owner-occupied housing is also an investment, usually providing capital gains for homeowners in the long run. While housing consumption played a central role in the urban model developed in earlier chapters, many important aspects of the housing commodity were omitted. Housing consumption was equated with the consumption of floor space, leaving out many other housing attributes. Also, because everyone in the city was assumed to be a renter, the issue of housing...

  10. 7 Housing Policies
    (pp. 137-158)

    Previous chapters discussed a number of government policies that affect housing, including urban growth controls, zoning, and the tax subsidy to homeownership. This chapter focuses on several additional policies that involve government intervention in the housing market. The chapter starts by analyzing rent-control laws, under which a city government attempts to limit the rents that landlords charge to their tenants. Rent-control policies are in place in many cities throughout the world, and it is important to gain an understanding of their effects. Next, the discussion turns to housing-subsidy programs, another way governments try to make housing more affordable for consumers....

  11. 8 Local Public Goods and Services
    (pp. 159-186)

    In the United States, most of the public goods and services that people consume are provided by local jurisdictions, not by the federal or state governments. The federal government provides national defense, interstate highways, national parks, and some other less visible public goods and services. State governments provide highways, parks, and higher education through systems of public universities. But it is local governments that provide elementary and secondary education, police and fire protection, mass transit, city streets, recreational facilities, public health facilities, sewers and sanitation, and other goods and services. These goods play a bigger role in people’s daily lives...

  12. 9 Pollution
    (pp. 187-206)

    Pollution has reduced the quality of life in cities for hundreds of years, especially since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Some pollutants affect air quality, and others compromise the quality of groundwater and the water in rivers. Beyond the local effects of pollution, the greenhouse gases produced by all types of combustion contribute to global warming, with potentially harmful long-term effects on the environment.

    In developed countries, urban air pollution has become less severe as factories, power plants, and automobiles have gotten cleaner. In addition, rivers and streams are less polluted than they once were. But serious air-quality problems...

  13. 10 Crime
    (pp. 207-230)

    Like pollution, crime reduces the quality of life in cities, where it is usually concentrated. In addition to imposing large losses on victims, crime affects the patterns of daily living for everyone in cities where it is high. Residents avoid certain dangerous areas, and they may be reluctant to go out at night. Much crime is related to theft of property (cars, wallets, household goods, and so on) or to protection of economic interests (as when a drug lord is killed by a competitor). Other crimes (assault or murder committed in the heat of anger, or rape), yield no economic...

  14. 11 Urban Quality-of-Life Measurement
    (pp. 231-246)

    Amenity effects play a prominent role in popular discussions of real-estate markets in the United States. For example, it is often argued that the high housing prices on the West Coast are due in part to amenity advantages, including a temperate climate and ocean access. More generally, many commentators seem to view any West-Coast or East-Coast location as superior to one in the interior of the country, thereby justifying a bicoastal housing-price premium.

    The claim that the coasts are superior might be challenged by many Americans, especially those happily living in the nation’s heartland. But if the claim is granted,...

  15. Exercises
    (pp. 247-272)

    Suppose that chemical X is manufactured using a raw material B that is available from a location called the “mine.” Production of one ton of X requires 1/3 of a ton of B. A firm called X Enterprises, which has a contract to deliver 30 tons of X to a location called the “market,” is trying to decide where to locate its plant. The mine and the market are 50 miles apart. Overland shipment of both X and B costs $2 per ton per mile shipped. However, additional costs must be incurred because a river has no bridge. Goods must...

  16. References
    (pp. 273-280)
  17. Index
    (pp. 281-285)