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Essays on urban and development economics

Peng, Cong (2019) Essays on urban and development economics. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis consists of four independent chapters on urban and development economics. The first chapter estimates the causal effect of access to new subway stations on employment. I focus on a narrow band on either side of an equidistant line to existing and new subway lines in Shanghai. Comparing employment outcomes between firms on the side of the line nearest to new stations with firms on the side of the line closest to existing stations, identifies the causal effect of the new subway service. I find that every 1km decrease in distance to the subway service improves employment growth of manufacturer firms by 55-58% over five years, while it surprisingly reduces the employment growth of consumer service firms. The second chapter exploits the exogenous shock of an influential online shopping retail discount event in China (similar to Cyber Monday), to investigate how rapid growth of e-commerce affects urban traffic congestion. In the week after the event, intracity traffic congestion dropped by 1.7% during peak hours and 1% during off-peak hours. Using Baidu Index (similar to Google Trends) as a proxy for the changes in online shopping, I find that a 10% increase in online shopping causes a 1.4% reduction in traffic congestion. A welfare analysis conducted for Beijing suggests that the congestion relief effect has a monetary value of around 239 million US dollars a year. The third chapter (co-authored) studies how differential institutions persisting from colonial rule affect the spatial structure of African cities, especially how new patches of development are scattered and spatially disconnected from existing developments. The paper finds that Francophone cities are more compact than Anglophone cities. Geocoded Demographic Health Survey (DHS) data further show that compact cities have better connection to public services. The last chapter (co-authored) evaluates the environmental value of canals in England using a hedonic property price approach. Results reveal that proximity to canals increases house prices and the effect is highly localized. Houses within 100 meters of a canal have a price premium of around 5%, relative to those beyond 1km. A difference-in-differences analysis suggests that re-opening of the Droitwich canals caused price increases of around 10% within 100m of the restored canals, which is consistent with results in the national sample.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Cong Peng
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Silva, Olmo and Gibbons, Stephen

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