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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper


I define a composite amenity that provides aesthetic and consumption value to local residents: Urbanity. A novel data set of geo-tagged photos shared in internet communities serves as a proxy for urbanity. From the spatial pattern of house prices and photos I identify the value of urbanity in two of the largest cities in Europe: Berlin and London. I find an elasticity of indirect utility with respect to urbanity of about 1%. The aggregated willingness-to-pay equates to about $1bn per year in each city. The results demonstrate the important role cities play as centers of leisure, consumption, and beauty.

Gabriel M. Ahfeldt

17 May 2013     Paper Number SERCDP0136

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This SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper is published under the centre's Urban programme, Community Wellbeing programme.

This publication comes under the following theme: Community cohesion