Delineating Urban Areas Using Building Density

54 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2019

See all articles by Pierre-Philippe Combes

Pierre-Philippe Combes

Université de Lyon; Sciences Po - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Marie-Pierre de Bellefon

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Gilles Duranton

University of Pennsylvania - Real Estate Department

Laurent Gobillon

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Clément Gorin

University of Saint Etienne - Analysis Group and Economic Theory Lyon St-Etienne (GATE-LSE)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2019

Abstract

We develop a new dartboard methodology to delineate urban areas using detailed information about building location, which we implement using a map of all buildings in France. For each pixel, our approach compares actual building density after smoothing to counterfactual smoothed building density computed after randomly redistributing buildings. We define as urban any area with statistically significant excess building density. Within urban areas, extensions to our approach allow us to distinguish 'core' urban pixels and detect centres and subcentres. Finally, we develop novel one- and two-sided tests that provide a statistical basis to compare maps with different delineations, which we use to assess the robustness of our approach and to document large differences between our preferred delineation and the corresponding official one.

Keywords: Dartboard approach, Jaccard indices, Urban area definition

JEL Classification: C14, R12, R14

Suggested Citation

Combes, Pierre-Philippe and de Bellefon, Marie-Pierre and Duranton, Gilles and Gobillon, Laurent and Gorin, Clément, Delineating Urban Areas Using Building Density (November 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14129, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3496618

Pierre-Philippe Combes (Contact Author)

Université de Lyon ( email )

92 Rue Pasteur
Lyon, 69007
France

Sciences Po - Department of Economics ( email )

28, rue des Saints peres
Paris, 75007
France

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.gate.cnrs.fr/ppcombes

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Marie-Pierre De Bellefon

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Gilles Duranton

University of Pennsylvania - Real Estate Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6330
United States

Laurent Gobillon

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Clément Gorin

University of Saint Etienne - Analysis Group and Economic Theory Lyon St-Etienne (GATE-LSE) ( email )

Lyon
France

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