Cities and the Environment

100 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2014

See all articles by Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Randall Walsh

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 2014

Abstract

This paper surveys recent literature examining the relationship between environmental amenities and urban growth. In this survey, we focus on the role of both exogenous attributes such as climate and coastal access as well as endogenous attributes such as local air pollution and green space. A city's greenness is a function of both its natural beauty and is an emergent property of the types of households and firms that locate within its borders and the types of local and national regulations enacted by voters. We explore four main issues related to sustainability and environmental quality in cities. First, we introduce a household locational choice model to highlight the role that environmental amenities play in shaping where households locate within a city. We then analyze how ongoing suburbanization affects the carbon footprint of cities. Third, we explore how the system of cities is affected by urban environmental amenity dynamics and we explore the causes of these dynamics. Fourth, we review the recent literature on the private costs and benefits of investing in "green" buildings. Throughout this survey, we pay careful attention to empirical research approaches and highlight what are open research questions. While much of the literature focuses on cities in the developed world, we anticipate that similar issues will be of increased interest in developing nation's cities.

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Matthew E. and Walsh, Randall, Cities and the Environment (September 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20503. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2499345

Matthew E. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Randall Walsh

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

4901 Wesley Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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