Gilles Duranton

Gilles Duranton
  • Dean's Chair in Real Estate Professor

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    Wharton Real Estate Dept, University of Pennsylvania
    452 Vance Hall; 3733 Spruce Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-6301

Research Interests: urban economics and transportation economics

Links: CV, Personal Website, Bio

Overview

Education

PhD, London School of Economics, 1997; BSc, HEC, 1991

Recent Consulting

Urban and regional development, transportation, local public finance

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 2012-present; named Dean’s Chair in Real Estate Professor July 2013; Chair, Real Estate Department 2013-2019; University of Toronto: 2005-2012; London School of Economics: 1996-2005.

Professional Leadership

Former President, Urban Economics Association; Co-editor, Journal of Urban Economics; Editorial board member for several journals; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research; Research fellow, Centre for Economic Policy Research; Faculty Affiliate, LSE International Growth Centre; Affiliate, LSE Centre for Economic Performance, Urban and Spatial Programme.

Awards and honors

Fellow of The Regional Science Association (2014); Walter Isard Prize for Scholarly Achievement (Regional Science Association, 2014); Dean’s Excellence Award (University of Toronto) 2012, 2011; President of the North American Regional Science Council, 2011;  Hewings Prize (Regional Science Association), 2007; August Lösch Prize, 2006; Philip Leverhulme Prize, 2003; European Investment Bank, 2001; Aydalot prize, 1996.

 

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Research

  • Jane Jacobs, a personal assessment. Regional Studies 51(12), 1871-1873, 2017

  • Comments: Saving the heartland: Place-based policy in 21st Century America Brookings Paper of Economic Activity 223-240, 2018

  • Gilles Duranton and Tony Venables, “Place-based policies for development”. In Handbook of Regional Science, Manfred Fisher and Peter Nijkamp (eds) Springer-Verlag, Berlin, edited by, (2020)

  • Gilles Duranton and Erick Guerra, “Transport modes and cities”. In Encyclopedia of Transportation, Elsevier, edited by, (2020)

  • Gilles Duranton and Diego Puga (2020), “The economics of density”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 34(3), 3-26, 2020,.

  • Gilles Duranton, Geetika Nagpal, Matt Turner (2020), “Transportation infrastructure in the US”, edited by Ed Glaeser and Jim Poterba, NBER volume, 2021,.

    Abstract: Support for massive investments in transportation infrastructure, possibly with a change in the share of spending on transit, seems widespread. Such proposals are often motivated by the belief that our infrastructure is crumbling, that infrastructure causes economic growth, that current funding regimes disadvantage rural drivers at the expense of urban public transit, or that capacity expansions will reduce congestion. In fact, most US transportation infrastructure is not deteriorating and the existing scientific literature and does not show that infrastructure creates growth or reduces congestion. However, current annual expenditure on public transit buses exceeds that on interstate construction and maintenance. The evidence suggests the importance of an examination of how funding is allocated across modes but not of massive new expenditures.

  • Gilles Duranton, Laurent Gobillon, Pierre Philippe Combes (2018), “The production function for housing”, accepted for publication, Journal of Political Economy,.

    Abstract: We propose a new nonparametric approach to estimate the production function for housing. Our estimation treats output as a latent variable and relies on the first-order condition for profit maximi-sation with respect to nonland inputs by competitive house builders combined with their zero-profit condition. Differences in the demand for housing across locations lead to differences in land prices and, in turn, differences in nonland input investments. For parcels of a given size, we compute housing production by summing across the marginal products of nonland inputs. We implement our methodology on newly built single-family homes in France. After taking care of estimation concerns, we find that the production function for housing is reasonably well, though not perfectly, approximated by a Cobb-Douglas function and close to constant returns after taking care of estimation concerns. We estimate an elasticity of housing production with respect to nonland inputs of about 0.65.

  • Gilles Duranton, Prottoy A. Akbar, Victor Couture, Adam Storeygard (Under Revision), “Mobility and congestion in urban India”, under revision, new version coming soon.

    Abstract: Using a popular web mapping and transportation service, we generate information for more than 22 million counterfactual trip instances in 154 large Indian cities. We then use this information to estimate several indices of mobility for these cities. We first show that our measurements are robust to a wide variety of methodological choices. Second, we decompose overall mobility into uncongested mobility and the congestion delays caused by traffic. Third, we examine correlates of mobility, uncongested mobility, and traffic delays. Finally,we also provide a preliminary exploration of walking and transit trips.

  • Gilles Duranton and Diego Puga, “Urban growth and its aggregate implications”, under revision.

    Abstract: We develop an urban growth model where human capital concentration promotes entrepreneurship and raises city productivity. Land-use regulation balances commuting and housing costs against productivity gains to benefit local residents. Systematic determinants and productivity shocks drive city growth, generating realistic city-size distributions. Cities experience parallel growth in expectation, while subject to ups and downs around this common trend. Growth of existing cities and net city entry accommodate aggregate population growth. Matching key empirical moments at the city and economy-wide levels, we explore the contribution of cities to aggregate growth and income levels and the economy-wide consequences of land use regulations.

  • Gilles Duranton, Marie-Pierre de Bellefon, Pierre Philippe Combes, Laurent Gobillon (2018), “Delineating urban areas with building density”, Journal of Urban Economics, 2021,.

    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.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • BEPP250 - MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS

    This course will introduce you to "managerial economics" which is the application of microeconomic theory to managerial decision-making. Microeconomic theory is a remarkably useful body of ideas for understanding and analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms in a variety of economic settings. The goal of the course is for you to understand this body of theory well enough so that you can effectively analyze managerial (and other) problems in an economic framework. While this is a "tools" course, we will cover many real-world applications, particularly business applications, so that you can witness the usefulness of these tools and acquire the skills to use them yourself. We will depart from the usual microeconomic theory course by giving more emphasis to prescription: What should a manager do in order to achieve some objective? That course deliverable is to compare with description: Why do firms and consumers act the way they do? The latter will still be quite prominent in this course because only by understanding how other firms and customers behave can a manager determine what is beswt for him or her to do. Strategic interaction is explored both in product markets and auctions. Finally, the challenges created by asymmetric information - both in the market and within the firm - are investigated.

  • BEPP950 - MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS

    Public goods, externalities, uncertainty, and income redistribution as sources of market failures; private market and collective choice models as possible correcting mechanisms. Microeconomic theories of taxation and public sector expenditures. The administration and organization of the public sector.

  • BEPP962 - APPLIED ECONOMICS SEM

    The goal of this course is to help doctoral students develop critical thinking skills through both seminar participation and writing of referee reports. To this end students will attend the Wharton Applied Economics each Wednesday at noon seminar when it meets; prepare two written referee reports on WAE papers per semester, due before the seminar is presented. After attending the seminar and the ensuing discussion of the paper, students will prepare follow-up evaluations of their referee report reports, due one week after the seminar.

  • INSP399 - HONORS THESIS

    The senior thesis course is a capstone for seniors in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. Students in the Huntsman Program should consult with the Huntsman Program advisors for more information.

  • REAL375 - REAL ESTATE DISRUPTIONS

    Real Estate is changing dramatically for the first time in perhaps one hundred years. This class will examine how technology is changing in many facets (all) of the industry.This course will address how technology has already changed the demand for real estate, how it will likely change in the future the way real estate is used, designed, developed, constructed, managed, leased, maintained and financed. Among many questions to be considered: Can you crowd fund real estate development? Will the office business become a part of hospitality? Can we build new buildings like we assemble legos? How will autonomous vehicles affect the demand for space and property values? What is the future of new data analytics services? This is a team taught mini, half-credit course that will bring together a recognized industry leader and Wharton faculty. Includes a broad set of guest lecturers (Start-up entrepreneurs, incumbents, non RE technology specialists, etc). We believe there is no one single approach to gain insight into disruptions and change under uncertainty so we will propose a mix of approaches including, in-depth case-studies, interactions with guest lecturers who handle those issues daily, learning from economic history and other industries, and drawing from core economic concepts.

  • REAL399 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    All independent studies must be arranged and approved by a Real Estate department faculty member.

  • REAL875 - REAL ESTATE DISRUPTIONS

    Real Estate is changing dramatically for the first time in perhaps one hundred years. This class will examine how technology is changing in many facets (all) of the industry.This course will address how technology has already changed the demand for real estate, how it will likely change in the future the way real estate is used, designed, developed, constructed, managed, leased, maintained and financed. Among many questions to be considered: Can you crowd fund real estate development? Will the office business become a part of hospitality? Can we build new buildings like we assemble legos? How will autonomous vehicles affect the demand for space and property values? What is the future of new data analytics services? This is a team taught mini, half-credit course that will bring together a recognized industry leader and Wharton faculty. Included will be abroad set of guest lecturers (Start-up entrepreneurs, incumbents, VC's, non RE technology specialists, etc). We believe there is no one single approach to gain insight into disruptions and change under uncertainty so we will propose a mix of approaches including, in-depth case-studies, interactions with guest lecturers who handle those issues daily, learning from economic history and other industries, and drawing from core economic concepts.

  • REAL899 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    All independent studies must be arranged and approved by a Real Estate Department faculty member.

  • REAL946 - ADV TOPIC IN URBAN ECON

    This course addresses advanced topics in urban and real estate economics. The course will mix theory and empirics and will cover a broad range of topics including the modeling and estimation of agglomeration economies, land use and urban costs, transportation in cities, urban growth, migration between cities etc. The classes will mix formal presentations made by the instructor and student-led discussions of recent academic papers. In addition to presentations, students will be expected to complete a series of assignments including a short original research paper. PhD students will be expected to complete a research paper in addition to the successful completion of the course examination requirements. Prerequisites: The course assumes that students have familiarity with standard first year econometrics and microeconomics.

  • REAL962 - APPLIED ECONOMICS SEM

    The goal of this course is to help doctoral students develop critical thinking skills through both seminar participation and writing of referee reports. To this end students will attend the Wharton Applied Economics each Wednesday at noon seminar when it meets; prepare two written referee reports on WAE papers per semester, due before the seminar is presented. After attending the seminar and the ensuing discussion of the paper, students will prepare follow-up evaluations of their referee report reports, due one week after the seminar.

  • REAL995 - DISSERTATION

  • REAL999 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Activity

Latest Research

Jane Jacobs, a personal assessment. Regional Studies 51(12), 1871-1873, 2017
All Research

In the News

What Slows Urban Mobility in India — and How to Fix It

Like many countries, India's largest cities are congested. But congestion pricing won’t work because mobility is affected by other factors besides vehicle traffic, according to Wharton research.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 5/3/2019
All News

Wharton Magazine

Tech’s Effect on Real Estate
Wharton Magazine - 04/17/2020