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The Skyscraper Revolution: Global Economic Development and Land Savings


Time: 9:00 am - 10:30 am, Apr. 28th, 2023

Platform: Zoom

Speaker: Remi Jedwab

(George Washington University)

Link: https://zoom.us/j/96990174936?pwd=ejhZazZqRFZLa2duWXlXZ3B2K2ludz09

Meeting ID: 969 9017 4936

Passcode: inse



We show that tall buildings represent a transformative technology that has been central in facilitating sustainable urbanization and growth. Using supply side variation for identification, we demonstrate that the average elasticity of city population to aggregate city building heights is 0.12, and that of city built area to heights is -0.17. Land saved from development by post-1975 tall building construction is over 80% covered in vegetation. To isolate the effects of technology-induced reductions in the cost of height from correlated demand shocks, we use interactions of static demand differences and the geography of bedrock as instruments for observed changes in height, a triple difference identification strategy. Central to the analysis is newly organized data on the population, land area, and a measure of total height for 1975-2015 in 12,877 cities worldwide. Quantification using a canonical urban model suggests that global welfare has increased by 1.1% as a result of declines in the cost of height. Benefits could triple if constraints to vertical development were relaxed. 





Professor Remi Jedwab is an associate professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Elliott School and the Department of Economics of George Washington University and an Affiliated Scholar of the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University. Professor Jedwab’s main fields of research are urban and real estate economics, development and growth, environmental economics, and labor economics. Some of the issues he has studied include urbanization and structural transformation, urban construction and climate change, the economic determinants and effects of transportation infrastructure, and the roles of institutions, human capital and technology in development and growth. He is the co-founder and co-organizer of the World Bank-GWU Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Conference and the Washington Area Development Economics Symposium. His research has been published in the American Economic Review, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the American Economic Journal-Macroeconomics and the Journal of Economic Growth. Finally, he is an Associate Editor at the Journal of Urban Economics and Regional Science and Urban Economics. He obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Paris School of Economics in 2012.