Urban Economics Lab

The Urban Economics Lab at MIT focuses on studying economic activity and economic trends in cities. The Lab uses analytical models and big data to understand what makes cities thrive or decline, how housing values are formed and oscillate, and how local politics and social phenomena manifest in the context of increasing global urbanization. 

Latest News

2024 UEA European Meeting

Three of our esteemed lab members, Binzhe Wang, Vinicios Sant'Anna, and Simon Buechler recently participated in the prestigious 13th European Meeting of the Urban Economics Association in Copenhagen!

See the Conference agenda (here).

2024 AREUEA National Conference

Professor Albert Saiz (UEL's PI and Vice President of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association) organized the 2024 AREUEA National Conference. The event was a great success and brought together policymakers, academics, and real estate practitioners to present and discuss the latest research in urban economics and real estate. Other two members of the Urban Economics Lab participated in the Conference, Vinicios Sant'Anna (Postdoctoral Associate) and Simon Buechler (Research Scientist). See the Conference agenda (here).

Working Paper - Natural Barriers and Urban Connectivity

How does the presence of natural barriers influence transportation environments and urban densities across the globe?

This paper introduces three novel indexes: the share of natural barriers, non-convexity (a measure of natural fragmentation), and the average road detour, to measure and study the practical reach and effects of natural barriers around global cities. It calculates these indexes for areas in and around four separate global city-boundary definitions, augmenting the original data with relevant additional variables. 

Natural barriers lead to more complex transportation environments and are associated with higher urban densities, smaller urbanized footprints, taller buildings, and less pollution, but also with lower incomes and smaller populations. To draw meaningful policy conclusions, comparative research about environmental, economic, and social outcomes across global cities should always account for their surrounding geographies.

Read the paper.