We develop a neoclassical general equilibrium model to explain cross-metro variation in population and density. We provide new methods to estimate traded and nontraded productivities, and elasticities of housing and land supply, using density and land area data. From wage and housing cost indices, the model explains half of U.S. density and population variation and finds that quality of life determines location choices more than trade productivity; productivity and factor substitution in housing matter most, but are weak in nicer areas. Relaxing land use regulations would increase population in the West, raising both quality of life and productivity experienced by residents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics