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

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.

New Lab Members

 The Urban Economics Lab (UEL) welcomes two new members! KC Hardin and Henry Pollakowski are now Research Affiliates to the lab. KC is the chief executive officer and co-founder of the real estate development company Conservatorio. Henry is a distinguished housing and urban economist whose extensive body of work has been published in leading journals across the fields of economics, finance, and real estate. Currently, Henry is editor of the Journal of Housing Economics.

We welcome our new lab members, KC Hardin (left) and Henry Pollakowski (right).

2024 AREUEA National - Deadline Approaching

Professor Albert Saiz, First Vice President of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, is organizing the 2024 National AREUEA conference. The conference is scheduled to be held in person on Thursday and Friday, May 30th and 31st, 2024, in Washington–DC.  The conference portal is open for paper submissions until February 1st, midnight EST.

More details at https://areuea.memberclicks.net/national