Market Forces and Urban Spatial Structure: Evidence from Beijing, China
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This dissertation contributes to the literature on urban spatial structure by addressing two research questions. First, it empirically examines the urban economic theory by testing the relationship between the distance elasticities of land prices and housing prices. The theory indicates that land prices are more elastic with respect to distance from the city center than housing prices; in other words, land prices decline faster than housing prices. Using data from Beijing, which include matched housing and land prices, my findings support the theory. Second, this dissertation investigates the impacts of housing services production in general and the impacts of the capital-land substitution in particular on urban spatial structure. Using a constant elasticity of substitution (CES) production function for housing services, I theoretically derive the impacts of the elasticity of capital-land substitution on urban spatial structure, which is measured in terms of the distance gradients of land prices and capital densities, the housing output per unit of land, and the ratio of the distance elasticity of land prices to the distance elasticity of housing prices. The derived results suggest that an increase in the elasticity of capital-land substitution leads to increases in the land price, the capital density, and the housing output per unit of land at any location within the city, flattening of the land price and capital density curves, an increase in the ratio of the distance elasticity of land prices to the distance elasticity of housing prices, an expansion of the city boundary, and a growth in the population. These theoretical results are verified by numerical simulations and empirical estimations using the Beijing data. The simulations also reveal the magnitudes of these impacts: a 1% change in the elasticity of capital-land substitution leads to 15-20% changes in the total land value and housing output. The findings of this dissertation have practical implications in housing market behaviors, land value assessment for property taxation, and urban land use policy and planning.