Delineating Urban Areas Using Building Density
We develop a new dartboard methodology to delineate urban areas using detailed information about building location, which we implement using a map of all buildings in France. For each pixel, our approach compares actual building density after smoothing to counterfactual smoothed building density computed after randomly redistributing buildings. We define as urban any area with statistically significant excess building density. Within urban areas, extensions to our approach allow us to distinguish ‘core’ urban pixels and detect centres and subcentres. Finally, we develop novel one- and two-sided tests that provide a statistical basis to compare maps with different delineations, which we use to assess the robustness of our approach and to document large differences between our preferred delineation and the corresponding official one.
This work is supported by the Zell Lurie Center for Real Estate at the Wharton School. We appreciate the comments from two anonymous referees, the editor Stuart Rosenthal, Miquel-Angel Garcia-Lopez, Tom Holmes, Tomoya Mori, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Elisabet Viladecans, and participants at conferences and seminars. We are also grateful to Juan Vargas for helping with satellite data. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not of any institution they may be associated with, nor of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Marie-Pierre de Bellefon & Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Clément Gorin, 2019. "Delineating urban areas using building density," Journal of Urban Economics, .