UEC-52306 Urban Economics and Analysis


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Group work2
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. ES van Leeuwen
Lecturer(s)dr. SM Halleck Vega
prof. dr. ir. ES van Leeuwen
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. ES van Leeuwen
dr. SM Halleck Vega

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Basic knowledge of micro-economics


More than half of the global population lives on less than three percent of the world’s land surface. ‘On a planet with vast amounts of space, we choose cities’ (Glaeser, 2011). Even though travelling has become quicker and cheaper, and telecommunication allows us to communicate with everyone (almost) everywhere, more and more household and firms cluster together in metropolitan areas. People, both consumers and producers, like to live near each other and close to the amenities and opportunities the city offers them. Because of the high population density, cities are great places to foster change. Change in terms of sustainable consumption, healthy life-styles and societal participation. Both physical and behavioural (policy) measures can impact many people at the same time.

The aim of this course is to get a better understanding of how cities work. Why do cities exist? What are the advantages for firms and consumers to locate in a city? Why do we see different land and housing prices and what does this mean for inequality? In particular we will study the theory and evidence on the emergence of cities and their effect on productivity, urban amenities, social inequality and environmental issues.

The course will link lectures that discuss theoretical insights from urban economics to more empirical and applied topics that illustrate the intuition behind the theories discussed.
Next, you will work on two tutorials in which you will collect and analyse secondary data on different types of cities. Within groups of 3 or 4 students you will analyse 1) spatial concentration of activities using maps and Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis, 2) Look into urban advantages in different types of cities and neighbourhoods by using quantitative and qualitative tools. Within these working groups cooperation of students with different backgrounds and skills is encouraged.
Furthermore, there will be two individual assignments. The first will be a Perusall assignment in which you will need to read, annotate and comment on a selection of academic articles in an online environment. Secondly, at the end of the course you are expected to write a short research proposal (2000 words) on an urban economics topic which includes a clear theoretical framework and research question, as well as a work plan for the proposed research.

The course is accessible to those who have a basic background in microeconomics. We will use economic reasoning to understand several urban topics, for which we will mostly rely on diagrams and a few simple formulas.

Although most emphasis will be on cities in the developed world, we will also look at cities in developing countries. We will discuss what is good about slums and look into the current state of African and Asian cities.

Topics that will be covered:
- why do Cities exist?
- urban growth and decline;
- urban-Rural interactions;
- local public Goods and Services;
- sustainable Cities;
- cities of the world;
- urban economic policy analysis.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand how different economic processes shape the structure of cities;
- apply urban economic theories and concepts, such as location theory, the new economic geography; agglomeration advantages, monocentric cities; market failures; amenities; sorting;
- understand differences in policy challenges for different cities around the world;
- apply a selection of descriptive and analytical methods used to better understand cities and their actors;
- articulate interdisciplinary research questions relevant to the domain and practice of urban economics;
- connect current social debates to strategically relevant urban developments.


The course consists of three meetings per week.
Those meetings will consists of (guest) lectures, two group tutorials, and (group) presentations.
In addition there will be two individual assignments, and three group assignments (of which two are related to the tutorials) and one group assignment.


Individual assignments (40%); Group assignments (60%)


Brueckner, J. K. (2011). Lectures on urban economics. MIT Press.
In addition, selected readings will be made available through Brightspace.