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The economics of skyscrapers: A synthesis

Gabriel Ahlfeldt and Jason Barr ()

Journal of Urban Economics, 2022, vol. 129, issue C

Abstract: We document that skyscraper growth since the end of the 19th century has been driven by a reduction in the cost of height, increasing urbanization, and rising incomes. These stylized facts guide us in developing a competitive open-city general equilibrium model of vertical and horizontal city structure. We use the model to show that (i) vertical costs and benefits affect the horizontal land use pattern within cities; (ii) the causal relationship between skyscrapers and urbanization is bi-directional; and (iii) height limits reduce the size of large cities, leading to lower agglomeration economies, productivity, and urban GDP. We substantiate the model’s predictions by novel estimates of urban height gradients.

Keywords: Density; Economics; History; Height regulations; Skyscraper; Urbanization; Skyscrapers (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N9 R3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Related works:
Working Paper: The economics of skyscrapers: a synthesis (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: The Economics of Skyscrapers: A Synthesis (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: The economics of skyscrapers: A synthesis (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: The economics of skyscrapers: a synthesis (2020) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:juecon:v:129:y:2022:i:c:s0094119021001017

DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2021.103419

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