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The production function for housing: Evidence from France

We propose a new nonparametric approach to estimate the production function for housing. Our estimation treats output as a latent variable and relies on the firstorder condition for profit maximisation with respect to nonland inputs by competitive house builders. For parcels of a given size, we compute housing by summing across the marginal products of nonland inputs. Differences in nonland inputs are caused by differences in land prices that reflect differences in the demand for housing across locations. We implement our methodology on newlybuilt singlefamily homes in France. We find that the production function for housing is reasonably well, though not perfectly, approximated by a CobbDouglas function and close to constant returns after correcting for differences in user costs between land and nonland inputs and taking care of some estimation concerns. We estimate an elasticity of housing production with respect to nonland inputs of about 0.8

Small systems, big targets: Power sector reforms and renewable energy development in small electricity Systems

The dominant focus of much policy attention of late has been on the suitability of electricity market reform carried out under the ‘standard’ or prescriptive approach – the end point of which is market liberalization – for the integration of intermittent renewables. There is now a growing consensus around the argument that traditional energy-only electricity markets where prices are based on system marginal cost cannot function efficiently with both fossil fuels and renewables, potentially resulting in market disruptions and price volatility. Consequently, most policy discussion has focused on finding ways to successfully integrate the two through adopting advanced competitive solutions (such as the use of capacity markets in addition to energy-only markets) in larger systems. We however argue that the effectiveness of competition is limited by the size of the system – i.e., there is a minimum threshold size (and other characteristics such as tropical locations, lack of access, and the prevalence of remote consumers) under which competition will not produce expected outcomes, and require distinctive policy solutions. This paper contributes to the policy discourse by discussing the reform of small electricity systems to integrate renewable energy via the means of three case studies: Nicaragua, El Salvador, and their application to Australia’s Northern Territory. The paper draws some policy lessons that can be considered for other small electricity systems in island economies and territories across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific, that are pursuing a triad of objectives including electricity sector reform, large-scale renewables development and improving energy access.

The effect of sub-national borrowing control on fiscal sustainability: how to regulate?

This article examines effectiveness of sub-national borrowing control regimes in maintaining overall fiscal sustainability. The results suggest that regulating sub-national borrowing based on fiscal rules performs most efficiently in maintaining fiscal consolidation. Furthermore, sole reliance on financial markets seems to lead to faster end of fiscal consolidation episodes, which may be explained by not fully developed financial markets in many countries that dominantly apply this approach, Finally, strong central government control, as in case of administrative and cooperative regimes, in presence of high fiscal dependence on central government financing seem to increase the probability of ending consolidation episodes.

Interregional transfers, group loyalty and the decentralization of redistribution

We study the decentralization of redistributive taxation in a political economy model assuming regional heterogeneity regarding both group identity and average income. If a centralized system permits a beneficial pooling of national resources, it might also decrease the degree of solidarity in the society. With no group loyalty, centralization Pareto-dominates decentralization even when regions are not identical. Furthermore, increased heterogeneity need not increase the relative efficiency of decentralization. If regions are equally rich, centralization Pareto-dominates decentralization whenever group loyalty is not perfect. Finally, centralization is always more efficient than decentralization even when allowing for interregional transfers.

From periphery to core: economic adjustments to high speed rail

This paper presents evidence that high speed rail systems, by bringing economic agents closer together, sustainably promote economic activity within regions that enjoy an increase in accessibility. Our results on the one hand confirm expectations that have led to huge public investments into high speed rail all over the world. On the other hand, they confirm theoretical predictions arising from a consolidate body of (New) Economic Geography literature taking a positive, man-made and reproducible shock as a case in point. We argue that the economic geography framework can help to derive ex-ante predictions on the economic impact of transport projects. The subject case is the German high speed rail track connecting Cologne and Frankfurt, which, as we argue, provides exogenous variation in access to regions due to the construction of intermediate stations in the towns of Limburg and Montabaur.

First nature vs. second nature causes: industry location and growth in the presence of an open-access renewable resource

In this paper we present a model integrating characteristics of the New Economic Geography, the theory of endogenous growth and the economy of natural resources. This theoretical framework enables us to study explicitly the effect of “first nature causes” in the concentration of economic activity, more specifically, the consequences of an asymmetrical distribution of natural resources. The natural resource we consider appears as a localized input in one of the two countries, giving firms located in that country a cost advantage. In this context, after a decrease in transport costs, firms decide to move to the country with the greatest domestic demand and market size, where they can take more advantage of increasing returns, despite the cost advantage of locating in the South, due to the presence of the natural resource.

A nonparametric test for industrial specialization

We introduce a nonparametric microdata based test for industrial specialization and apply it to a single urban area. Our test employs establishment densities for specific industries, a population counterfactual, and a new correction for múltiple hypothesis testing to determine the statistical significance of specialization across both places and industries. Results highlight patterns of specialization which are extremely varied, with downtown places specializing in a number of service sector industries, while more suburban places specialize in both manufacturing and service industries. Business service industries are subject to more specialization than non-business service industries while the manufacturing sector contains the lowest representation of industries with specialized places. Finally, we compare the results of our test for specialization with recent tests of localization and show how these two classes of measures highlight the presence of both industry as well as place specific agglomerative forces.

Uneven landscapes and the city size distribution

This paper proposes a new explanation for Zipf’s law often observed in the top tail of city size distribution. We show that Zipf’s law can emerge if city size can be expressed as a product of multiple random factors. Each of the factors need not generate Zipf’s law by itself. The key implication is that we cannot reject a model simply because the model does not generate Zipf’s law. A single model, typically representing only one factor, may not generate Zipf’s law, but if we have many such models together as in reality, Zipf’s law may emerge.

Borders, market access and urban growth; the case of Saxon towns and the Zollverein

The Zollverein, the 1834 customs union between independent German states, removed all internal borders. This paper investigates its economic impact focussing on urban population growth in the state of Saxony. Implications from a econòmic geography model are tested with a data set on town populations and location characteristics as well as an improved distance measure created with GIS techniques to include geography and infrastructure. Saxony's Zollverein membership led to significantly higher growth for towns close to the liberalized border. The effect depended on a town's size, was reinforced through neighboring markets and worked through influencing migration and natural increase.

Urban sprawl and municipal budgets in Spain: a dynamic panel data analysis

Urban sprawl has recently become a matter of concern throughout Europe, but it is in southern countries where its environmental and economic impact has been most severe. This lowdensity, spatially expansive urban development pattern can have a highly marked impact on municipal budgets. Thus, local governments may see sprawl as a potential source of finance, in terms of buildingassociated revenues and increased transfers from upper tiers of government. At the same time, sprawl leads to increased levels of expenditure, as it may raise the provision costs of certain local public goods and requires greater investment in extending basic infrastructure for new urban development. What, therefore, is the net fiscal impact of urban sprawl? Do local governments consider the long-run net fiscal impact of new urban growth or do they simply focus on its short-term benefits, ignoring future development costs? This paper addresses these questions by analysing the dynamic relationship between urban sprawl and local budget variables. ...

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