GY314      Half Unit
The Economics of Housing Markets and Migration

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Olmo Silva STC.S506a


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Economic History and Geography and BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have normally taken EC100 or EC102, and one or more of: EC201, GY201 or GY222

Course content

The main aim of this course is to analyse how decisions made by individuals influence the distribution of economic activities across space. The lectures will focus on how people sort across areas; on how they express their demand and preferences for specific locations and spatial attributes; and on how individual decisions carry important implications for the urban/regional economies and their labour markets. The emphasis will be on quantitative aspects and the lectures will cover both economic theories and related empirical methodology/applications. The course will be split into two interrelated blocks. One will concentrate on residential markets and study decisions made by individuals in relation to tenure choice and demand for housing space. Some time will be devoted to analysing how these processes affect the neighbourhoods where individuals live in terms of social stratification and externalities. The other part of the course will analyse the dynamics of local labour markets, geographical mobility, national and international migration and their effects on the local economy.

Topics covered:

1. Housing markets: the own vs. rent decision

2. Housing markets: the elasticity of supply and demand of space

3. Housing markets: real estate cycles and price fluctuations

4. Housing markets: hedonics to uncover “what people want”

5. Neighbourhood effects: do places matter?

6. The externalities of homeownership

7. Local labour markets and spatial mismatch

8. The economic determinants of migratory flows

9. The local economic effects of migration: labour markets

10. The local economic effects of migration: innovation and entrepreneurship


20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to prepare for group discussion of some readings and hand in short essays and problem sets.

Indicative reading

Hilber, C. (2005): “Neighborhood Externality Risk and the Homeownership Status of Properties”, Journal of Urban Economics, 57(2), 213-241.

Mayer, C. and T. Somerville (2000): “Residential Construction: Using the Urban Growth Model to Estimate Housing Supply”, Journal of Urban Economics 48, 85-109.

Gibbons, S., S. Machin and O. Silva (2013): “Valuing School Quality Using Boundary Discontinuities”, Journal of Urban Economics, 75(1), 15-28.

Gibbons, S., O. Silva and F. Weinhardt (2013): “Everybody Needs Good Neighbours? Evidence from Students’ Outcomes in England”, Economic Journal, 123, 831-874.

Bracke, P., C. Hilber and O. Silva (2017): “Mortgage Debt and Entrepreneurship”, Journal of Urban Economics, 103(1), 52-66.

Hatton, T. (2005): “Explaining Trends in UK Immigration”, Journal of Population Economics, 18, 719-740.

Card, D. (2005): “Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?”, Economic Journal, F300-F323.

Hunt, J. and M. Gauthier-Loiselle (2010): “How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?” American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2, 31–56.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2018/19: 25

Average class size 2018/19: 13

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

Teachers' comment

This is a new half-unit option coverning the Lent Term material of the full-unit course previously coded GY305. No data is as yet available.