University of California, Berkeley
Mark R. Wolfe, J.D., M.C.P.
Department of City & Regional Planning
Office hours: Tues. 9:00 am, 102 Wurster
Cities are the physical and spatial manifestations of human social, psychological,
spiritual, artistic, cultural, and economic needs, activities, and functions.
Though there can
never be a single “unified theory” of the city, the field of economics provides insights into
the forces that impel, as well as impede, contemporary urban form, demographics, and
In this class, we will survey the basics of microeconomic theory and analysis, and
then apply them to present-day problems in the areas of urban and regional land use,
transportation, housing, design, and economic development planning.
Students should at a
minimum come to understand: (1) how a city’s form, function, and history are shaped by the
economic decisions of its citizens, businesses and government; (2)
how the basic tools of
microeconomic analysis can be applied to planning problems and decisions; and (3) how to
analyze critically the strengths and weaknesses of various economic approaches to urban
While the course’s primary focus will be theoretical, students will have the
opportunity to apply the tools of microeconomic theory to particular urban issues through
selected scenarios and case-studies.
Some practical aspects of public finance, law, and city
administration will also be discussed.
Lectures will be held twice weekly.
There may be a discussion section once each
week to review lectures and problem sets, depending on enrollment.
Attend lectures and discussion sections regularly
Complete all assigned readings and be prepared to participate in class
Complete four problem sets
Complete a midterm exam
Complete a final exam
Arthur O’Sullivan, Urban Economics
Marshall, How Cities Work
Robert Wassmer, ed., Readings in Urban Economics
Course readings (distributed online).
Introduction to Urban Economics