Michael Blake

Michael Blake was a Cities Economist for the International Growth Centre based at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford. He was working on the IGC’s Cities that Work initiative, developing the IGC network of economists, urban planning practitioners and policymakers to translate economic research into clear urban policy guidance.

Prior to joining BSG, Michael completed his Bachelor’s Degree at Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, before finishing his MPhil in Economics, also at Oxford University. His research spans many different themes surrounding urbanisation, including urban land use and planning, public infrastructure and service provision, housing markets, urban employment and firm development, and municipal finance.

Content by Michael Blake
  • 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

  • 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

  • Blog post

    Making land administration work for African cities

    Rapid urbanisation has created a strong need to improve land administration in many African cities. Emerging research and policy experiences in countries such as Rwanda can guide policymakers across the continent as they seek to do this. Policy debates about land are often highly removed from the practical apparatus that determine how land is actually used – maps,...

    1 May 2018 | Michael Blake

  • Publication - Growth Brief

    Making the most of urban land

    Land is a city’s most valuable resource, but is liable to be badly misused.  As cities grow, land risks becoming occupied without coordination or supporting infrastructure, while a few lucky landowners enjoy rising values created by the entire city. Active policy can change this. Urban policymakers face decision on land policy that will dramatically shape the future...

    16 Mar 2018 | Paul Collier, Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring

  • Publications Reader Item

    Making the most of urban land

    13 Mar 2018

  • Blog post

    Making the most of urban land: the role of rights and responsibilities

    On the 8th September 2017, the World Bank, George Washington University and the International Growth Centre hosted the 4th Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference: Building or Rebuilding Cities for Growth in Washington DC. The conference brought together top academics and practitioners to discuss the role sustainable cities play in economic growth and poverty...

    3 Oct 2017 | Michael Blake

  • Blog post

    World Habitat Day 2017

    To mark 2017’s World Habitat Day, the theme of which is Housing Policies: Affordable Homes, we asked researchers working on housing to provide their thoughts on the future of urban housing policy: Could you give an example of an interesting policy that could help to tackle some of the housing challenges faced in developing cities? Simon Franklin: large scale low cost...

    2 Oct 2017 | Simon Franklin, Paul Collier, Julia Bird, Michael Blake, Nina Harari, Mila Friere, Priya Manwaring

  • 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

  • Blog post

    Unexpected side-effects: Urban policies and market responses

    Should cities invest in public transport systems, even if they might slow growth? Can an HOV lane reduce congestion when drivers circumvent it? Is unpredictability of police enforcement a good thing for reducing drunk-driving? These and other surprising facts were presented at the recent IGC mini-cities conference. Research highlighted below showcases the importance of...

    19 Jun 2017 | Michael Blake, Priya Manwaring