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Essay On Environmental And Urban Economics

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The thesis consists of three independent chapters on environmental and urban economics. A central theme explored in this thesis is what determines the distribution of economic activities across space. My exploration in this direction begins with the roles of industrial pollution and transportation infrastructure in shaping the spatial distribution of skills, and extends to evaluate the spatial allocation efficiency of renewable energy projects. The first chapter,“The Long Shadow of Industrial Pollution: Environmental Amenities and the Distribution of Skills”, investigates the role of industrial pollution in determining the competitiveness of post-industrial cities, with a focus on their ability to attract skilled workers and shift to a…show more content…
The second chapter, “Travel Costs and Urban Specialization: Evidence from China’s High Speed Railway” examines how improvements in passenger transportation affect the spatial distribution of skills, exploiting the expansion of high speed railway (HSR) project in China. This natural experiment is unique because as a passenger-dedicated transportation device that aims at improving the speed and convenience of intercity travel, HSR mostly affects urban specialization through encouraging more frequent intercity trips and face-to-face interactions. I find that an HSR connection increases city-wide passenger flows by 10% and employment by 7%. To further deal with the issues of endogenous railway placement and simultaneous public investments accompanying HSR connections, I examine the impact of a city’s market access changes purely driven by the HSR connection of other cities. The estimates suggest that HSR-induced expansion in market access increases urban employment with an elasticity between 2 and 2.5. The differential impacts of HSR on employment across sectors suggest that industries benefiting more from enhanced market access are the ones intensive in nonroutine cognitive skills, such as finance, IT and business services. These findings highlight the role of improved passenger travel infrastructure in promoting the delivery of services, facilitating labour sourcing and knowledge exchange across cities, and
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