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LunchUP: "Metropolitan form, agglomeration economies, and economic productivity: evidence from US metropolitan areas."

LunchUP: "Metropolitan form, agglomeration economies, and economic productivity: evidence from US metropolitan areas."

Presenter: Jacob Yan

Notwithstanding the extensive debate on urban form and its impacts, its relationship to economic efficiency is still unclear to urban researchers. Some favor dispersed patterns over centralization or clustering, based on the assertion that “[in the twenty-first century] agglomerations should be built around the automobile and should have few natural centers.” Another view stands for compactness for its potential to facilitate better human interactions and knowledge spillover. Yet few empirical studies exist to verify the validity of either claim in the US context. This study takes up this empirical challenging by examining if compact and polycentric regions are more productive than sprawling and dispersed regions, using data on US metropolitan areas. I borrow sophisticated measures of urban form from the urban sprawl literature to test the associations of different dimensions of urban form with economic productivity, measured by Gross Domestic Product per worker. The statistical tests show that compact and centralized regions are productive than sprawling regions. This finding partially refutes the notion that urban centers are no longer needed to realize agglomeration externalities in this automobile era and joins force with the planning idea of polycentric regions in Europe and Asia. My study also strengthens the causes for the “Smart Growth” movement, adding a novel piece of empirical evidence in favor of “Smart Growth” from the economic efficiency standpoint.  

These sessions are a response to requests from faculty and students to learn more about what’s going on in the field in an informal environment. We hope this can inspire emergent thoughts and connections that will inform our scholarship. 

Lunch is included, please bring a drink.