Urban economics

Urban economics is the economic discipline that interprets the phenomenon ‘city’ as an original form of organization of social work: a form that, since the first urban agglomerations, has ensured efficiency in exchanges and interaction among people, expanded the division of labor and generated continuous innovation, in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres, since ‘politics’ and democracy are also born with the city. To achieve this interpretive goal, urban economics also uses conceptual tools and models matured from other sciences: from urban geography to mathematical ecology and systems analysis, to catastrophe and chaos theory; always, however, in order to interpret economic phenomena and behaviors such as competitiveness, innovativeness, trajectories of development and decline, the spatial division of labor, the distribution of income in space and particularly between the city and the non-city (the ‘countryside’), following the terminology of classical economists, from A. Smith to K. Marx, and of some great philosophers such as G.W.F. Hegel. Thus it is not simply the application of concepts and method of economics to the city, as was the case with the regional macroeconomics of the 1960s and the so-called new urban economics initiated in the 1970s-a necessarily partial approach that does not capture the totality of the phenomenon. Various issues are covered by urban economics and fall into specific and different domains. Among them are the growth of the city, linked to its competitiveness, its ability to export goods and services, and thus to the presence of networks; and the issue of land rent, which arises, on the one hand, from the size, dynamics and efficiency of the city (‘absolute’ rent, spread over the entire urban area) and, on the other, from the accessibility and territorial quality of each individual place within the city (‘differential’ rent).

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