Edward Glaeser

Ed Glaeser is a Research Programme Director for the IGC’s Cities Research Programme.

He is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University, where he also serves as Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He also edits The Quarterly Journal of Economics. He studies the economics of cities, and has written several papers on urban issues, including the growth of cities, segregation, crime and housing markets. He is particularly interested in the role that geographic proximity can play in creating knowlegde and innovation.  He received his BA in Economics from Princeton University and his PhD from the University of Chicago (1992).

In 2011, Glaeser published a book, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier which was shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

Content by Edward Glaeser
  • Publication - Evidence Paper

    IGC evidence paper - Cities

    In this paper, we divide the field of urban development economics into three broad categories: agglomeration economies, density’s downsides, and spatial models of transportation and housing. The central question of agglomeration economics is if cities themselves actually increase productivity or if the observed relationship between density and earnings represents the...

    1 May 2021 | Gharad Bryan, Edward Glaeser, Nick Tsivanidis

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Using data to inform the COVID-19 policy response

    The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced. Data can be used to target resources, forecast future needs, or evaluate decisions. Data collection should be guided by specific policy questions surrounding how to contain the disease, how to protect the vulnerable, and how to mitigate damage to economies. To better serve...

    17 Nov 2020 | Zeeshan Abedin, Emanuele Brancati, Michael Callen, Victoria Delbridge, Edward Glaeser, Sebastian Kriticos, Hina Shaikh

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Designed to succeed: Building authorising environments for fast-growing cities

    Cities are where prosperity is won or lost. They can either be the engines of economic growth, or dysfunctional sites of congestion, crowding, and discontent. One of the main differences is due to the quality and effectiveness of policy decisions: some city governments can take effective, timely decisions that support the productivity-enhancing features of cities, while...

    6 Oct 2020 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Astrid Haas, Shahrukh Wani

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Urban land use planning for economic growth

    Land use planning plays a crucial role in improving the productivity, livability, and sustainability of developing cities. Drawing on successful reforms from developed and developing countries, this paper explores the trade-offs associated with designing and enforcing land use plans and regulations in the context of rapid and often informal urban development

    5 Oct 2020 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Priya Manwaring

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Water, sanitation, and hygiene policy in the time of COVID-19

    Investing in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is a no-regret policy for developing countries in the fight against COVID-19. According to numerous studies, for every $1 invested, the return in terms of healthcare savings, reduced time off work, and increased national productivity is between $2-4 for water and $5-9 for sanitation. This is particularly true for...

    30 Jun 2020 | Michael Blake, Edward Glaeser, Astrid Haas, Sebastian Kriticos, Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza

  • Blog post

    Empowering our cities to fight the pandemics of the future

    Members of the Cities that Work council come together to delineate the critical challenges that need to be addressed to equip our cities to withstand pandemics. Cities accomplish many wonderful things - they enable people to exchange ideas, goods and services, and many other forms of collaboration. However, the fact that they serve as international and national...

    18 Jun 2020 | Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE, Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Astrid Haas, Craig Kesson, Jonathan Leape, Jennifer Musisi, Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Tony Venables

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Fighting COVID-19 in cities: Perspectives from the Cities that Work council

    On 10th June 2020, the Cities that Work Council came together to discuss evidence and experience on the city-level response to COVID-19. This video shows highlights of this meeting.

    18 Jun 2020

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Urban mobility: policy decisions for connecting the city

    This brief explores key trade-offs policymakers face in improving systems of urban mobility. Drawing on cross- city experience, it looks at addressing rising demands for private transport, options for formalising existing transport systems, and trade-offs policymakers face in investing in high capacity public transit.

    15 Nov 2019 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Priya Manwaring, Michael Blake

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Impôts sur le foncier: pour valoriser des revenus municipaux inexploités

    Dans ce bulletin, nous abordons l’importance de l’impôt foncier annuel comme source de financement des municipalités et examinons les avantages et les inconvénients que rencontrent les décideurs dans la mise en œuvre des réformes. Nous recensons également des exemples de pratiques exemplaires de réforme adoptées par des villes de pays en...

    16 Aug 2019 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Priya Manwaring, Michael Blake

  • Publication - Policy paper, Synthesis paper

    Policy options for informal settlements

    Across the developing world, the pace of urbanisation has outstripped the ability of governments to faciliate decent, affordable housing, resulting in unplanned and often illegal settlements. This paper brings together economic research and cross-country experience to inform trade-offs policymakers face, both in addressing existing informal settlements, and in preventing...

    12 Mar 2019 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring

  • Blog post

    Is the rule of law good for women? Evidence from micro-entrepreneurs in Lusaka, Zambia

    The rapidly growing cities of the developing world can be an engine for private sector growth (Krugman, 1991; Glaeser, 2011). However, the positive externalities of living in urban areas become lost opportunities when people cannot safely trade with each other. This can happen either because of lack of mutual confidence or weakness in the rule of law. Across countries,...

    11 Mar 2019 | Nava Ashraf, Edward Glaeser, Alexia Delfino

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Women, entrepreneurship, and institutions

    This project aims to investigate whether improving enforcement of rule of law benefits female entrepreneurs more than male entrepreneurs, thus serving to reduce the gender gap in entrepreneurship. The project builds upon previous work that collected data on the distribution of all businesses across Lusaka. This brief presents new analysis of this data which reveals...

    25 Jan 2019 | Nava Ashraf, Alexia Delfino, Edward Glaeser

  • Publications Reader Item

    Informal settlements and housing markets

    21 Jan 2019

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Informal settlements and housing markets

    Across the developing world, over one billion people live in informal settlements, and this number is set to double in the next 15 years. This brief explores options for policymakers both to address existing informal settlements, and to ensure that future urban growth provides affordable formal housing for its residents.

    18 Jan 2019 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    The spatial structure of cities in developing countries

    Professor Ed Glaeser outlines key policy challenges related to the spatial structure of cities in developing countries and the research needed to address them. These ideas are part of the IGC's 'Cities that Work' initiative.

    31 Oct 2018

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Land rights: Unlocking land for urban development

    This brief outlines the crucial role land rights play in urban development, and explores trade-offs that policymakers face in reforming current tenure systems. It identifies key lessons and best-practices from policy reforms across the developing world.

    5 Jul 2018 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Accessing opportunities: Policy decisions for enhancing urban mobility

    11 May 2018 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Priya Manwaring, Michael Blake

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Cities that Work launch event at the World Bank

    The IGC's Cities that Work initiative was publicly launched at the World Bank on 7 September 2017 with a panel discussing the topic 'Research into Policy to Support Well-Managed Urbanisation’, featuring: Francisco Ferreira (World Bank); Ed Glaeser (IGC and Harvard University); Jennifer Musisi (Kampala Capital City Authority); Tony Venables (IGC and Oxford University);...

    20 Mar 2018

  • Publication - Synthesis paper

    Secure, legally enforceable and marketable land rights for urban development

    This Cities that Work paper first outlines why secure, legally enforceable and marketable land rights play such a pivotal role in urban development. Section 2 discusses the trade-offs associated with different tenure systems, both formal and informal. Whilst there can be strong benefits in formalising land rights, processes of formalisation need to be underpinned by...

    31 Aug 2017 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring

  • Publication - Synthesis paper

    Land and property taxes for municipal finance

    This Cities that Work paper explores why land and physical properties represent the largest source of untapped municipal revenue. Alongside their potential to raise significant public revenues, land and property taxes are also fairer and more efficient than other forms of tax. They have limited effects on urban investment, and allow governments to capture increases in land...

    31 Aug 2017 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Land and property taxes: Exploiting untapped municipal revenues

    Part of our Cities that Work publications, this brief outlines the importance of annual land and property tax as a source of municipal finance and explores trade-offs that policymakers face in implementing reform. It also identifies examples of best practice for reform from cities across the developing world.

    31 Aug 2017 | Paul Collier, Edward Glaeser, Tony Venables, Priya Manwaring, Michael Blake

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Ed Glaeser public lecture: Making cities work in the developing world

    Ed Glaeser, research director of IGC’s cities programme, gives a public lecture about the importance of cities for development and the need for policy to tackle the downsides of density. He also introduces IGC's new research and policy initiative Cities that Work.

    12 Jun 2017

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Urban density, trust, and knowledge sharing in Lusaka, Zambia

    This project aims to investigate the channels through which urban agglomeration can foster (or hinder) firm growth in developing countries. This brief presents the first stage of this research agenda, the collection of a new dataset mapping the spatial distribution of all the businesses in Lusaka: the Lusaka Census of Urban Entrepreneurs (47,428 firms),...

    15 May 2017 | Nava Ashraf, Calvin Chiu, Alexia Delfino, Edward Glaeser, Nicholas Swanson

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Ed Glaeser: Five lessons for urban policy

    Professor Ed Glaeser outlines five key lessons for policymakers in developing countries who want to implement effective urban policies. These ideas are part of the IGC's 'Cities that Work' initiative.

    14 Mar 2017

  • Project

    Evidence to inform the JKN health insurance programme: Analysis and collection of GIS data

    Advances in computer vision have made it possible to train predictive algorithms on both structured and unstructured features of image data sets. With good predictive algorithms and robust image data, we can hope to extrapolate even relatively small samples of income or survey data over large areas.  In recent work, we have used Google Street View imagery to develop...

    27 Oct 2016 | Benjamin Olken, Edward Glaeser, Rema Hanna, Nikhil Naik, Scott Kominers

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Building effective & functioning cities

    Ed Glaeser, IGC research programme director, explains why cities are the best pathway to prosperity and outlines three lessons from over 30 years of economics research on urbanisation.

    18 Oct 2016

  • Project

    Growing together: Trust, spontaneous clusters, and the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises in cities

    The rapid growth of cities in the African continent provides a new opportunity for the spread of innovative ideas and creates the conditions for the accumulation of social capital through repeated interactions. Urban density and social proximity can foster cooperation in the provision of public goods and the creation of win-win solutions which relax the economic constraints...

    6 Jul 2016 | Edward Glaeser, Nava Ashraf, Alexia Delfino

  • Project

    Infrastructure, incentives and institutions

    Expensive infrastructure is ineffective if it doesn't travel the last mile. In nineteenth-century New York and modern Zambia, disease spread when urbanites chose not to use newly built sanitation infrastructure to save money. Either subsidies or Pigouvian fines can internalise the externalities that occur when people don't use sanitation infrastructure, but with weak...

    23 Jun 2016 | Nava Ashraf, Edward Glaeser, Giacomo Ponzetto

  • Publication - Project Memo

    Scoping study on Urbanisation in Zambia (Project Memo)

    9 Feb 2016 | Edward Glaeser, Nava Ashraf

  • Project

    Water connections in urban Zambia: Measuring the private and social benefits of water

    The rapid growth of cities on the African continent brings tremendous economic potential, facilitating the spread of innovation, industry and education. However, this promise is blighted by significant negative externalities associated with big city density, including congestion and contagious disease. There is a view among urban economists that one of the most...

    14 Aug 2015 | Edward Glaeser, Nava Ashraf, Bryce Steinberg, Abraham Holland

  • Multimedia Item - Audio

    IGC cities research group 2015: Ed Glaeser

    22 Jun 2015

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Ed Glaeser: The Happiness of Cities

    20 May 2015

  • Publication - Growth Brief

    Growth brief: Contagion, crime, and congestion - overcoming the downsides of density

    With rapid urbanisation in the developing world comes contagion, crime, and congestion. Overcoming these is one of the great policy challenges of the 21st century. This brief outlines why these issues are so important to the prosperity of cities and discusses ways to tackle them, providing useful lessons for policymakers. It also identifies opportunities for...

    19 May 2015 | Edward Glaeser, Helen Dempster

  • Project

    Scoping study on Urbanisation in Zambia

    Urbanisation in Zambia has the potential to help the country to grow from poverty into prosperity Researchers met with about 50 different stakeholders to understand the country’s urbanisation challenges With the support of the Zambian government, two urbanisation projects were commissioned from this visit Developing countries are rapidly urbanising...

    17 Apr 2015 | Edward Glaeser, Nava Ashraf