Municipal finance, density, and economic development. Empirical evidence from a global sample of cities

Keywords: Urban density, municipal expenditure, economic development, cities


This research focuses on how population density may influence the municipal expenditure using a global dataset from UN-Habitat. Specifically, we test its role on different budget categories, including sanitation, waste, water, affordable housing, and security. We find that in general density is likely to be correlated with expenditure. This evidence is not robust across the considered expenditure categories. Rather, population density is likely to influence specific budget items and its explanatory power varies as we consider different measures of it. Among control variables, we point out the significance and magnitude of the regressors related to economic development, which in some cases matters more than density in explaining some expenditure categories. Findings suggest that making cities denser can be a valuable option of urban policy, if the target is expenditure optimization. Nonetheless, this works only when it is combined with a mix of other factors, and location is also considered.


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Author Biographies

Marco Kamiya, UNIDO

He currently works at UNIDO, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, as Chief of the Division of Innovation Strategies and Digitalization. He was with UN-HABITAT at Headquarters in Kenya, Coordinator of the former Urban Economy and Finance Branch, and later Senior Economist of the Knowledge & Innovation Branch. He managed field projects and conducts research in areas of municipal finance, economics of urban expansion, and local infrastructure investment policies. Prior to joining UN-Habitat, he was with (CAF) Development Bank of Latin America in Caracas, and with the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC. He was project director of Development Projects at PADECO Co., Ltd., a global consulting firm in Tokyo. He held a PhD in economics.

Raffaele Scuderi, "Kore" University of Enna

He is full professor of Applied Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Law, Kore University of Enna (Italy), where he currently serves as the Dean of the Faculty.  He is editor of Tourism Economics. His research areas include tourism and cultural economics, urban and regional economics, development economics. He holds a PhD in applied statistics.

Giuseppe Tesoriere, World Resources Institute

He currently works at WRI, World Resources Institute, as Senior Urban and Regional Economist.  He leads and conducts economic research and analysis that help address key knowledge gaps and advance the objectives of WRI Ross Center project teams working globally across urban issues, including economic geography, inequality, municipal finance, and mobility. Prior to joining WRI, Giuseppe was senior urban economist at UN-HABITAT knowledge and innovation branch, and urban economy and finance branch. He also has several years’ experience conducting data collection, and studies focussed on agglomeration economies, public goods and resilience working with World Bank and African Development Bank urban programmes and projects in Africa, and collaborating with consulting companies in Middle-East and Italy. He held a PhD in economics.


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How to Cite
KamiyaM., ScuderiR., & TesoriereG. (2022). Municipal finance, density, and economic development. Empirical evidence from a global sample of cities. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 15(1), 49-65.