Gilles Duranton presented the relationship between mobility and development at the LACEA-LAMES 2021
On the third, and final day, of the LACEA-LAMES 2021, Gilles Duranton, guest speaker by the Universidad del Rosario, led one of the eight keynote lectures organized for the event. During his lecture, Duranton showed that the most developed economies have higher motorized speeds than developing economies.
In The Fast, the Slow and the Congested – Urban Transportation in Rich and Poor Countries Duranton, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, outlined the differences in urban mobility between the more developed and less developed economies. To do so, Duranton and his team built a database based on the mobility information available on Google Maps. This allowed them to analyze the mobility data of some 1,300 cities throughout the world. The results of the analysis indicate that in the more developed economies the speed of urban mobility is much higher than in the less developed economies.
The data allowed cities to be grouped into three categories: fast, those in which urban mobility always takes place at high speeds; slow ones, in which urban mobility always occurs at low speeds; and congested ones, in which urban mobility, despite adequate road infrastructure, occurs at low speeds when there is high traffic. Most of the fastest cities are relatively small cities in the United States; meanwhile, most of the slowest cities are in African or Asian countries. Among the most congested cities there are several Latin American ones. Bogotá, for example, according to data obtained by Duranton and his team, is the most congested city in the world.
Data analysis allowed Duranton to associate the speed of urban mobility with factors such as economic development, measured by GDP per capita, road infrastructure and the shape of cities, as observable factors, and even drivers’ behavior when operating their vehicles, as an unobservable factor. These other variables were fundamental to explain differences in the speed of urban mobility in cities with a similar level of development.