Building Functional Cities

May 20 2016

The literature views many African cities as dysfunctional with a hodgepodge of land uses and poor “connectivity.” One driver of inefficient land uses is construction decisions for highly durable buildings made under weak institutions. In a novel approach, we model the dynamics of urban land use with both formal and slum dwellings and ongoing urban redevelopment to higher building heights in the formal sector as a city grows. We analyze the evolution of Nairobi using a unique high–spatial resolution data set. The analysis suggests insufficient building volume through most of the city and large slum areas with low housing volumes near the center, where corrupted institutions deter conversion to formal sector usage.

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Vernon Henderson joined the LSE in September 2013 as School Professor of Economic Geography, having previously been Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown University, USA.

Tony Venables is Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford where he also directs the Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies. He has published extensively in the areas of international trade and spatial economics, including work on trade and imperfect competition, economic integration, multinational firms, and economic geography.

Tanner Regan is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and works in the Urban and Spatial Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance. He is broadly interested in urban, spatial, and development economics with a current focus is on the role of slums in shaping the built environment of African cities. He has ongoing work with the Urbanisation in Developing Countries Programme based at LSE and Oxford.