Information technology and urban density

Authors: Duco De Vos*, Delft University of Technology, Evert Meijers, Delft University of Technology
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: it, agglomeration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: 8217, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban economics and regional science have stressed the complementarity between information technology and cities. Rather than leading to the ‘death of distance’, IT is argued to increase the need for density. Arguments include that online and offline communication are complements, and that online information boosts demand for local goods, resulting in greater product variety. We argue that the complementarity between IT and cities is not straightforward because (1) offline communication is not necessarily related with colocation, and (2) theories that explain why demand effects of local information would be greater in cities ignore effects on the spatial extent of local demand. Instead, IT may decrease the need for urban density because online communication has gradually become a closer substitute to face-to-face communication, and many IT innovations that started in cities are now available ubiquitously. This process may be expedited by high urban house prices encouraging people to use IT in ways that substitute the urban density they can no longer afford. We end with a research agenda that includes testable hypotheses.

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