Conversations on Urbanization are public, one-on-one discussions between thought leaders on urban affairs and the principal scholars of the NYU Stern Urbanization Project.
The Urbanization Project’s Brown Bag Discussion Series brings together students, scholars, and practitioners from NYU and NYC to talk with featured guests about their ongoing urban-related work.
Planning the layout of a metropolitan area traditionally focuses on including as many people as possible within its public transit system. Bertaud argues that this objective is backwards. Instead he advocates for adapting the transport system to the structure of the city, not the other way around.
Blattman’s research examines the behavioral roots of poverty, crime, and violence. This research study, which collected experimental data from 1000 high risk young men in Monrovia, Liberia, aimed to shed light on the following questions: What are the causes of persistent poverty?; Does violence have the same roots as poverty?; Can adults modify the skills and behaviors that can lead to poor investment behaviors and violent tendencies?
There is a large body of work on whether neighborhoods matter to life outcomes but much less discussion about how they matter - the mechanisms involved. Ellen’s research examines the impact of neighborhood violence and crime levels.
The discussion focused on what Romer calls the Startup Dynamic, a dynamic that is at the heart of the charter cities concept. Romer believes that civic startups are a key mechanism by which people can shift away from persistently inefficient social norms.
The Urban Expansion initiative is currently working with several rapidly-growing cities in Ethiopia and Colombia to plan for their inevitable growth. The collaboration is based on Angel’s “making room” approach to dealing with urban expansion.
Dingel’s research (with Donald Davis) examines the idea that more skilled individuals are willing to pay more to live near the amenities associated with big city life, and that, compared to smaller cities, bigger cities have larger numbers of high-skilled workers relative to lower-skilled workers.
Haughwout’s research uses the COMPS dataset from the CoStar Group to identify two types of transactions: purchases of vacant land and purchases of parcels with structures that the buyer intends to tear down. By examining these transactions, Haughwout effectively hones in on the price of the land itself.
Among other results, Haughwout finds a quadratic relationship between distance of a parcel from the city center and the log price per square foot. The relationship, with the most expensive land nearest the city center, is consistent across cities though the gradient is less steep in some cities than others.
Buckley stressed some of the problems with urban-related data from Sub-Saharan Africa along with some of the distinct patterns it presents. Flickr image by Ken Harper.