ECON 4242-100 Urban Economics: The Economics of Cities

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ECON 4242-100 Urban Economics: The Economics of Cities
Urban Economics: The Economics of Cities
Econ 4242 - 100
Summer 2015
Instructor: Dustin Frye
Office Location: Econ 307
Office Hours: MWF 9:30 - 10:50 am and by appointment
Email Address: [email protected]
This is the best way to contact me outside of office hours. Please allow me 24 hours to respond.
Class Meeting: Monday - Friday 11 am - 12:35 pm in Econ 119
Class Website: Desire2Learn
Course Description
This course explores the nature and development of urban areas, beginning with an examination
of the theory of why cities grow and how individuals and firms choose their locations, before
covering patterns of land use, suburbanization, transportation, education, crime, and housing and
their influence the growth of cities.
Economics Prerequisites: ECON 3070 and ECON 3818
Relevant math techniques and economic concepts will be briefly reviewed when
necessary, but you are responsible for the math and econ requirements of this course.
Required Textbook/Materials
Urban Economics, by O’Sullivan, 8th Edition, McGraw-Hill Irwin (The 7th edition also
works). I recommend reviewing the previous days notes and reading the relevant chapters in the
textbook before each lecture.
Grading Structure1
Homework (10%)
News Articles and Podcasts (5%)
Journal Article Summaries (10%)
Group Presentations (15%)
Picture Project (20%)
Midterm Exam (20%)
Final Exam (20%)
1 I reserve the right to curve the grades for any individual assignments or the course overall if need be.
Your Score
Your Grade
Your Score
Your Grade
What Goes Into Your Grade
Over the term I will assign a couple problem sets (2-3) that hopefully give you an opportunity to
practice and improve your understanding of the material. Assignments may consist of short
answer questions, graphical or mathematical problems or short essays. I also encourage you to
work with other people in the class. In fact, the problem sets can be submitted for groups with up
to four members.
News, Articles and Podcasts
Part of this course is connecting the theory that we will be learning in the classroom to changes
to current urban areas. A couple times this semester we will be reading news articles, academic
papers, or listening to podcasts. These articles/podcasts will typically be accompanied by a
written assignment that allows you to reflect on how this material relates to the material we are
discussing in class. These should be completed individually.
Journal Article Summaries
Part of the material covered in the course comes from recent published academic papers. One of
the objectives of this course is to introduce you to how economic knowledge is created and
distributed (research). To encourage you to read these papers, you will write four summaries of
these articles. These will be no longer than one page in length (12 point font, double-spaced). In
the summary you will (1) identify the author’s question, (2) the data sources they use, (3) the
methodology used to answer the question, (4) the major results, and (5) a related extension
question for further research. You must turn in your summary at the beginning of class on the
day we discuss the paper in order to receive credit. Summaries will be graded on a five-point
scale, one point for successfully answering each question. I will provide a good example of one
by the end of the first week. The papers will be available through Desire2Learn. These should be
completed individually.
Group Presentations
Starting with the material after chapter 6 of the book, you will be required to do a more in depth
analysis of an academic paper. You will work in a group of up to four people to create a detailed
analysis of one of these papers, present your analysis to the class, and lead the discussion. These
presentations should take about 30 minutes. I will provide a detailed assignment sheet within the
first few days of class and give an example presentation. We will form groups and choose papers
by the end of the first week. The papers that are available for group presentations are in bold text
in the course outline.
Urban Photo Project
My favorite part of urban economics is that the topics we are going to cover in this course are
visible around us everyday. The purpose of this project is to look for those topics around you and
interpret them using the tools learned in this course. The project requires you to take several
photos (5 per person) and write accompanying text that interprets the photograph using the
economic concepts we discuss in class. This is going to be a group project, with up to 4 people
per group. Each photo in the group needs to highlight a different topic from the course. I will
provide a more in depth set of directions, including a list of potential topics, at the end of the first
Midterm Exams
The midterm is scheduled for Thursday June 18th in class.
The format of the exams will be short answer questions, graphical or mathematical problems or
short essays, similar to the homework assignments. Please bring a #2 pencil and a calculator to
every exam. Any material covered in lecture and/or in the assigned readings is fair game for the
Final Exam
The final exam is scheduled for July 3rd in class. The exam date is set by the university and
cannot be altered. If you have plans to leave early you should not take this class.
I will be taking attendance at random six times throughout the semester. You are only present if
you are in class at the beginning of class and stay until the end. You are allowed to have two
absences without consequence. For each additional absence (3 or more) I will deduct 3% from
your final grade in the course. For example, if you are absent four of the six times I take
attendance, your maximum possible grade is a 94% or said another way if you earned an 85% in
the course, your final grade would be a 79%. Individuals that are present all six times get a 3%
bonus on your final grade in the course. If I catch you signing in for another student you will
immediately incur three absences.
Late Work Policy
Assignments are due at the beginning of class, not at the end or later that day. You are welcome
to make up any assignment late but each day the assignment is late it reduces the potential score
by 50%. Assignments turned in after the beginning of class are considered one day late. In order
to submit an assignment you must be present at the beginning of class and stay through the entire
Neither graphing calculators nor cell phone calculators will be allowed during exams!!!
Do not ask me to use either type on an exam; I will not make an exception and the answer will be
a definitive “No.” Please be sure to obtain an acceptable calculator type (any type of calculator
other than a graphing calculator or cell phone calculator) to use for exams.
Tentative Schedule
Introduction to Urban Economics (June 1)
O’Sullivan: Ch. 1
Glaeser, Edward L. "Are cities dying?" The Journal of Economic Perspectives
(1998): 139-160.
Market Forces in the Development of Cities (June 2 - June 10)
1. Why Do Cities Exist?
O’Sullivan: Ch. 2
Quigley, John M. "Urban diversity and economic growth." The Journal of
Economic Perspectives (1998): 127-138.
2. Why Do Firms Cluster?
O’Sullivan: Ch. 3
Arzaghi, Mohammad, and J. Vernon Henderson. "Networking off madison
avenue." The Review of Economic Studies 75.4 (2008): 1011-1038.
Redding, Stephen J., and Daniel M. Sturm. "The Costs of Remoteness: Evidence
from German Division and Reunification." American Economic
Review 98.5 (2008): 1766-97.
Ellison, Glenn, Edward L. Glaeser, and William R. Kerr. "What Causes Industry
Agglomeration? Evidence from Coagglomeration Patterns." American
Economic Review 100.3 (2010): 1195-1213.
3. City Size
O’Sullivan: Ch. 4
Au, Chun-Chung, and J. Vernon Henderson. "Are Chinese cities too small?."The
Review of Economic Studies 73.3 (2006): 549-576.
Rappaport, Jordan. "Moving to nice weather." Regional Science and Urban
Economics 37.3 (2007): 375-398.
4. Urban Growth
O’Sullivan: Ch. 5
Henderson, J. Vernon, Adam Storeygard, and David N. Weil. "Measuring
economic growth from outer space." American Economic Review 102.2
(2012): 994-1028.
Kline, Patrick, and Enrico Moretti. "Local Economic Development,
Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from
the Tennessee Valley Authority." The Quarterly Journal of
Economics 129.1 (2014): 275-331.
Moretti, Enrico. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from
longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data." Journal of
Econometrics 121.1 (2004): 175-212.
Land Rent and Land Use Patterns (June 11 - June 17)
1. Urban Land Rent
O’Sullivan: Ch. 6
Davis, Morris A., and Michael G. Palumbo. "The price of residential land in large
US cities." Journal of Urban Economics 63.1 (2008): 352-384.
2. Urban Land Use
O’Sullivan: Ch. 7
Burchfield, Marcy, et al. "Causes of sprawl: A portrait from space." The
Quarterly Journal of Economics (2006): 587-633.
Glaeser, Edward L., et al. "Decentralized Employment and the Transformation of
the American City [with Comments]." Brookings-Wharton Papers on
Urban Affairs (2001): 1-63.
3. Neighborhood Choice
O’Sullivan: Ch. 8
DiPasquale, Denise, and Edward L. Glaeser. "Incentives and social capital: are
homeowners better citizens?." Journal of Urban Economics 45.2 (1999):
Boustan, Leah Platt. "Was Postwar Suburbanization “White Flight”?
Evidence from the Black Migration." The Quarterly Journal of
Economics 125.1 (2010): 417-443.
Midterm Exam (June 18)
Topics in Urban Economics (June 22 - July 1) NOTE: NO CLASS June 19th & June
1. Zoning and Growth Controls
O’Sullivan: Ch. 9
Glaeser, Edward L., Joseph Gyourko, and Raven Saks. "Why Is Manhattan
So Expensive? Regulation and the Rise in Housing Prices." Journal of
Law and Economics 48.2 (2005): 3.
Glaeser, Edward L., and Bryce A. Ward. "The causes and consequences of land
use regulation: Evidence from Greater Boston." Journal of Urban
Economics 65.3 (2009): 265-278.
2. Autos and Highways
O’Sullivan: Ch. 10
Baum-Snow, Nathaniel. "Did highways cause suburbanization?." The
Quarterly Journal of Economics (2007): 775-805.
Duranton, Gilles, and Matthew A. Turner. "The fundamental law of road
congestion: Evidence from US cities." The American Economic
Review (2011): 2616-2652.
3. Urban Transit
O’Sullivan: Ch. 11
Baum-Snow, Nathaniel, Matthew E. Kahn, and Richard Voith. "Effects of
Urban Rail Transit Expansions: Evidence from Sixteen Cities, 19702000 [with Comment]." Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban
Affairs (2005): 147-206.
4. Education
O’Sullivan: Ch. 12
Black, Sandra E. "Do better schools matter? Parental valuation of
elementary education." Quarterly Journal of Economics (1999): 577599.
Andersson, Roland, John M. Quigley, and Mats Wilhelmsson. "Urbanization,
productivity, and innovation: Evidence from investment in higher
education."Journal of Urban Economics 66.1 (2009): 2-15.
5. Crime
O’Sullivan: Ch. 13
Cullen, Julie Berry, and Steven D. Levitt. "Crime, urban flight, and the
consequences for cities." Review of Economics and Statistics 81.2
(1999): 159-169.
6. Housing & Housing Policy
O’Sullivan: Ch. 14-15
Saiz, Albert. "The geographic determinants of housing supply." The Quarterly
Journal of Economics 125.3 (2010): 1253-1296.
7. Urbanization in Developing Countries
Brueckner, J., and S. Lall. "Cities in Developing Countries: Fueled by RuralUrban Migration, Lacking in Tenure Security, and Short of Affordable
Housing."Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics 5 (2015).
Nunn, Nathan, and Diego Puga. "Ruggedness: The blessing of bad geography
in Africa." Review of Economics and Statistics 94.1 (2012): 20-36.
Michaels, Guy, Ferdinand Rauch, and Stephen J. Redding. "Urbanization and
Structural Transformation." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 127.2
(2012): 535-586.
Final Project Due & Final Exam Review (July 2)
Final Exam (July 3)
Other Stuff
Students with Disabilities
If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a
timely manner so that your needs may be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on
documented disabilities. Contact: 303-492-8671, Willard 322, and www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices. Disability
Services’ letters for students with disabilities indicate legally mandated reasonable accommodations. The syllabus
statements and answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices.
Religious Observance Policy
Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to reasonably and fairly deal
with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments, or
required attendance. If you have a conflict, please contact me at the beginning of the term so we can make proper
Classroom Behavior Policy
Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Students who
fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Faculty has the professional responsibility to
treat all students with understanding, dignity and respect, to guide classroom discussion and to set reasonable limits
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Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with
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