Limited Growth: 500 Years of Urban Rents

77 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2019 Last revised: 8 May 2023

See all articles by Piet Eichholtz

Piet Eichholtz

Maastricht University

Matthijs Korevaar

Erasmus School of Economics

Thies Lindenthal

University of Cambridge

Date Written: May 8, 2023


This paper explores half a millennium of rent growth in seven European cities (1500– 2020). Based on extensive data collection of rental cash flows, we construct continuous annual rent indices. Long-term real rent growth has been limited, but sluggish supply adjustments lead to past population growth negatively predicting current rental growth. We highlight rents as a significant yet underappreciated component of historic urban household budgets. Factoring rents into inflation measures substantially lowers urban standard-of-living growth estimates. At the city level, we propose that rent growth may serve as a more accurate indicator of historic economic growth than day wages.

Keywords: rents, economic growth, standard of living, urban history

JEL Classification: R30, N93, N94

Suggested Citation

Eichholtz, Piet and Korevaar, Matthijs and Lindenthal, Thies, Limited Growth: 500 Years of Urban Rents (May 8, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Piet Eichholtz

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, Limburg 6200MD

Matthijs Korevaar (Contact Author)

Erasmus School of Economics ( email )


Thies Lindenthal

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

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