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Cities in Bad Shape: Urban Geometry in India

Mariaflavia Harari

American Economic Review, 2020, vol. 110, issue 8, 2377-2421

Abstract: The spatial layout of cities is an important feature of urban form, highlighted by urban planners but overlooked by economists. This paper investigates the causal economic implications of city shape in India. I measure cities' geometric properties over time using satellite imagery and historical maps. I develop an instrument for urban shape based on geographic obstacles encountered by expanding cities. Compact city shape is associated with faster population growth and households display positive willingness to pay for more compact layouts. Transit accessibility is an important channel. Land use regulations can contribute to deteriorating city shape.

JEL-codes: O18 R14 R23 R52 R58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1257/aer.20171673

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