Working paper
Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt

2012/36 : The hidden dimensions of urbanity

Cities are more than centers of production. This paper introduces new spatial variables in order to gain new insights into the role cities play as centers of leisure, consumption and beauty. First, a revealed preference indicator of urbanity is constructed based on geo-tagged photos shared in web-communities. Second, spatial variables are generated to capture features that have received little attention in quantitative urban research. Among them, the quality of the built environment, both with respect to contemporary as well as historic architecture, and the cultural endowment constituted by mainstream and avant-garde establishments. From a comparative spatial analysis of the European metropolises Berlin and London, I find that urbanity defined along these lines is of similar importance for the spatial structure cities as labor market accessibility and spillover effects. Urbanity attracts consumption affine households, especially the high- skilled.

Download PDF