Space and Price in Adapting Cities: Exploring the Spatial Economic Role of Climate-Sensitive Ecological Risks and Amenities in Finnish Housing Markets

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation external

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As the adaptation of cities to climate change is increasingly overlapping sustainable urban development, the necessity to harmonize climate-proofing with economic objectives becomes ever clearer. Climate-sensitive ecological risks and amenities, and their role in markets and urban planning, are central in this issue. This research explores the reaction of urban housing markets to changes related to green amenities and flood risks; deepens the understanding of complex spatial processes, in housing markets and urban growth, that relate to the implementation of sustainable adaptation strategies; and develops advanced spatial modelling methodology that renders urban economic analysis better suitable to address questions of sustainable and climate-proof urban planning. The results demonstrate that physical or behavioral planning interventions surrounding climate-sensitive ecological risks and amenities generate economic benefits via multiple channels, when attuned with market mechanisms. This is an important building block in synchronizing climate-proofing with economic development objectives, therefore facilitating urban adaptation that is also sustainable. The synchronization requires an evidence-based understanding of the effects linked to particular interventions, at concrete locations and spatiotemporal scales. The overall message is that, while trade-offs are unavoidable, if green cities maintain agglomeration benefits, ensure increased information flows about ecological risks and amenities, while implementing amenities in a spatially parameterized manner, they are able to achieve both climate-proofing and sustainability objectives. The thesis consists of five quantitative analysis articles, while the introductory chapter synthesizes the results in the context of urban planning, spatial economics, and climate change adaptation. The first three articles apply empirical microeconometric methodologies (spatial hedonic and difference-in-differences analysis) to explore the response of housing markets to changes in green infrastructure and to policy instruments related to flood risk information. The fourth and fifth articles apply spatial complexity methods (cellular automata, fractal geometry) to extend the intuitions of microeconometric estimations into dynamic spatial processes in housing prices and urban growth. The five articles use environmental-economic datasets developed by this dissertation research, covering the urban region of Helsinki (Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa) and the cities of Pori and Rovaniemi.In future cities, local climate and ecosystems will be an important part of urban planning. This dissertation explores how growing cities can deal with green spaces and flood risks. Climate and environmental changes are not only about threats, but cities can use them as opportunities, provided well-informed policies based on research evidence. The study explores how house prices react to green spaces and to flood risks, and how sustainable development and climate adaptation strategy can be successful. Complicated problems such as these require innovative solutions, and the dissertation uses methods such as fractals, cellular automata, and spatial economic analysis. The study analyzes housing markets and urban dynamics in the Finnish capital region, in Pori, and in Rovaniemi, combining and developing new datasets. The dissertation shows that green spaces and information about climate-related risks are powerful tools for climate-proof sustainable cities, provided that there is a clear understanding of how all their costs and benefits are behaving in time and in different types of neighborhoods.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
  • Pellikka, Petri, Supervisor, External person
  • Perrels, Adriaan, Supervisor, External person
  • Loikkanen, Heikki, Supervisor, External person
Award date3 Feb 2017
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-952-336-008-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-336-009-9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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