Gilles Duranton

Gilles Duranton
  • Dean's Chair in Real Estate Professor
  • Chair, Real Estate Department

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    Wharton Real Estate Dept, University of Pennsylvania
    1470 Steinberg-Dietrich Hall; 3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-6302

Research Interests: urban economics and transportation economics

Links: CV, Personal Website, Bio



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-present; University of Toronto: 2005-2012; London School of Economics: 1996-2005.

Professional Leadership

President, Urban Economics Association; Board Member, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, Co-editor, Journal of Urban Economics; Co-editor, Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics; Editorial board member for several  journals; Research fellow, Centre for Economic Policy Research.

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.


Continue Reading


  • Gilles Duranton, Laurent Gobillon, Pierre Philippe Combes, The production function for housing.

  • Gilles Duranton, Prottoy A. Akbar, Victor Couture, Adam Storeygard, Mobility and congestion in urban India.

    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 Tony Venables, Place-based policies for development.

    Abstract: Many development policies, such as placement of infrastructure or local economic development schemes, are “place-based.” Such policies are generally intended to stimulate private sector investment and economic growth in the treated place, and as such they are difficult to appraise and evaluate. This paper sets out a framework for analyzing the effects of such policies and assessing their social value. It then reviews the literature on place-based policies in the contexts of transport improvements, economic corridors, special economic zones, lagging regions, and urban policies.

  • Gilles Duranton and Diego Puga, Urban Growth and its aggregate implications.

    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 existingcitiesandnetcityentryaccommodateaggregatepopulationgrowth. 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, Delineating urban areas with building density.

    Abstract: We develop a new dartboard methodology to delineate urban areas using detailed information about building location. We implement it for France. In essence, we compare a smoothed map of actual buildings to maps of smoothed counterfactual random redistributions of the same buildings. We define as urban in any area with statistically significant excess building density. Extensions, to our approach also allows us to characterise the internal geography of French urban areas and to measure their centers and subcentres. We also develop novel one- and two-sided tests to provide a statistical basis to compare maps with different delineations.

  • Gilles Duranton, Henry Overman, Diego Puga, Tanner Regan, Matthew Turner, The lifecycle of land: Evidence from US, 2000-2010.

  • Gilles Duranton, Prottoy A. Akbar, Victor Couture, Adam Storeygard, Accessibility and Proximity in urban India.

  • Gilles Duranton, Victor Couture, Matthew Turner (2018), Speed, Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming.

    Abstract: We investigate determinants of driving speed in large us cities. We first estimate city level supply functions for travel in an econometric framework where the supply and demand for travel are explicit. These estimations allow us to calculate an index of driving speed and to rank cities by driving speed. Our data suggest that a congestion tax of about 3.5 cents per kilometer yields welfare gains of about 30 billion dollars per year, that centralized cities are slower, that cities with ring roads are faster, and that the provision of automobile travel in cities is subject to decreasing returns to scale.

  • Gilles Duranton, Philippe Martin, Thierry Mayer, Florian Mayneris, The Economics of Clusters: Experience from France (Oxford University Press, 2018)

  • Gilles Duranton and Jean-Francoise Maystadt (2018), The Development Push of Refugees: Evidence from Tanzania, Journal of Economic Geography, accepted for publication.

    Abstract: We exploit a 1991–2010 Tanzanian household panel to assess the effects of the temporary refugee inflows originating from Burundi (1993) and Rwanda (1994). We find that the refugee presence has had a persistent and positive impact on the welfare of the local population. We investigate the possible channels of transmission, underscoring the importance of a decrease in transport costs as a key driver of this persistent change in welfare. We interpret these findings as the ability of a temporary shock to induce a persistent shift in the equilibrium through subsequent investments rather than a switch to a new equilibrium in a multiple-equilibrium setting.


Current Courses

  • REAL995 - Dissertation


Past Courses


    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.


    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.


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


    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.



In the News

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Latest Research

Gilles Duranton, Laurent Gobillon, Pierre Philippe Combes, The production function for housing.
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In the News

Latin America in 2018: Why Commodities Are Still King

Rising commodity prices pegged to Chinese demand will likely push up Latin America's economic growth modestly this year. But potential political setbacks remain a risk, experts say.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/01/12
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