Gregory Burge, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma
Most economic analysis ignores the role of location. Urban economics is the one branch of economics where that omission is turned around, focusing intensively on the location of human activities (e.g., where we live, work, and even visit). Urban Economics covers location theory, but also dives directly into issues of public transportation, housing policy, and the provision of local public goods. This had led many to describe urban economics as an interdisciplinary area of study that lies at the intersection of fields including economics, urban planning, geography, political science, and sociology. Additionally, this course will focus on the connections between Urban Economics and Public Policy – particularly public policies that have geographic dimensions.
Operationally, urban economics focuses on the causes and consequences of cities and the greater regional settings they dominate. In particular, large cities simultaneously create unique economic advantages and disadvantages for their citizens. We will discuss why firms in large cities generally carry productivity advantages over those in less densely populated areas, as well as commenting on the problems cities face (crime, pollution, educational inequality, housing segregation, discrimination, congestion). It is hard to imagine a better setting to undertake this journey than Chengdu, a city that stands as a remarkable example of an urban environment. Currently containing just over 14 million residents, Chengdu is the 4th most populated administrative unit in China, the most populated National in the world (by far). The goal of this course is to “bring cities to life” in a sense – were better than Chengdu to see these concepts in action.