42 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2014 Last revised: 3 Oct 2015

See all articles by Lee Anne Fennell

Lee Anne Fennell

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: December 1, 2014


Urbanization presents students of commons dilemmas with a pressing challenge: how to achieve the benefits of proximity among people and land uses while curbing the negative effects of that same proximity. This piece, written for the 2014 BYU Law Review Symposium on the Global Commons, focuses on the role of location decisions. It casts urban interaction space as a commons that presents the threat of overgrazing but that also poses the risk of undercultivation if it fails to attract the right mix of economic actors. Because heterogeneous households and firms asymmetrically generate and absorb agglomeration benefits and congestion costs, cities embed an interesting collective action problem — that of assembling complementary firms and households into groupings that will maximize social value. After examining the nature of this participant assembly problem, I consider a range of approaches to resolving it, from minor modifications of existing approaches to larger revisions of property rights.

Keywords: agglomeration economies, congestion, land use, property rights, urbanization, zoning

Suggested Citation

Fennell, Lee Anne, Agglomerama (December 1, 2014). 2014 Brigham Young University Law Review 1373 (2015), University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 710, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 496, Kreisman Working Papers Series in Housing Law and Policy No. 17, Available at SSRN:

Lee Anne Fennell (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0603 (Phone)

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