Professor Vernon  Henderson

Professor Vernon Henderson

School Professor of Economic Geography

Department of Geography and Environment

Room No
CKK 4.31
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Key Expertise
Urbanization developing countries, Infrastructure policy, Land use policy

About me

J. Vernon Henderson joined the London School of Economics in September 2013 as School Professor of Economic Geography, having previously been Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown University, USA.

His research focuses on urbanization in developing countries, looking both within and across cities and regions. His current research looks at topics such as the evolution of the urban system in sub-Saharan Africa; factor market distortions, city size and welfare in China; spatial equilibrium models; the dynamics of investment in the built environment in cities, how colonial legacy affects sprawl and the spatial layout of cities; the link between ethno-linguistic diversity and urban concentration worldwide; and the role of geography and history in economic development. 

His recent work is published in journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic ReviewReview of Economic StudiesScience and Journal of Development Economics. He has been a co-editor of the Journal of Urban Economics and the Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, and serves on a number of editorial boards. He is a founder and past President of the Urban Economics Association. 

Over the years, he has worked with governments in Asia and Africa directly or indirectly through institutions such as the World Bank and DFIDic on formulating urban policies

View Professor Henderson's CV.

Expertise Details

Economic geography; Regional economics; Spatial and economic development; Urban economics; Urbanisation

Countries and regions

Asia; China


Africa governmental decentralization index
Word document
Excel document

Africa property rights index
PDF document 
Excel document

World cities population data set, 1960-2000
Excel document
Word document (documentation for world cities data)
Word document  (cities and countries dropped in analysis)



keynote speeches, lectures and interviews

Podcast “What is about economy?”: Vernon Henderson on the challenges of Ukraine’s recovery. Listen here

The Way Forward Coalition, Washington, DC. Watch here.

Lectures on urban Economics. Watch here

Urban age. Building productive cities. Listen here

The political economy of local factor market distortions in China. Watch here


Selected publications

  • “Urbanization and the geography of development in countries” in Rethinking Cities: toward shared prosperity, E. Glaeser and A. Joshi-Ghani (eds.) Oxford University Press, 2015
  • “Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space,’ with Adam Storeygard and David Weil, American Economic Review, 2012, 102, 994-1028.
  • “Exclusionary Policies in Urban Development,” with Leo Feler Journal of Urban Economics, 2011, 69, 253-272
  • “Corruption and Local Democratization in Indonesia: The Role of Islamic Parties,” with Ari Kuncoro, Journal of Development Economics, 2011, 94, 164-180
  • “Cities and Development,” Journal of Regional Science, 2010, 50, 515-540
  • “The Dynamics of City Formation” (with Tony Venables), Review of Economic Dynamics, 2009, 12, 233-254
  • “Agglomeration of Headquarters,” (with J. Davis), Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2008, 63, 431-450
  • “Networking Off Madison Avenue,” (with M. Arzaghi), Review of Economic Studies, 2008, 75, 1011-1038.

Working papers:


“Accelerating urban economic growth in Ukraine” Henderson (with R. Green, M. Kahn, A. Nikolsko-Rzhevskyyc and A. Parkhomenkoa. In Rebuilding Ukraine: Principles and policies (eds: Yuriy Gorodnichenko Ilona Sologoub Beatrice Weder di Mauro) CEPR 2021

Podcast “What is about economy?”: Vernon Henderson on the challenges of Ukraine’s recovery. Listen here

My research