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Potential Project

is measuring the driving forces of development in U.S. and Chinese cities



Human Capital

Real Estate




City Growth Potential project is a joint MIT Center for Real Estate’s Price Dynamics Platform and Sustainable Urbanization Lab project.


Which cities grow in population, surface area, and income per person? Why do some cities grow faster than others? How does this growth affect real estate prices? To help answer these questions, in this project, we analyze cities’ growth potential around the world. More specifically, we investigate the links between industry growth, transportation infrastructure, human capital, city growth, and real estate prices.

We structure this project in a two-stage analysis. In the first stage, we capture the link between emerging industries and city growth potential. For every new industry, certain cities will be more suitable for it to grow and expand than other cities. The acceptance and adaptability of cities may vary by the characteristics of the industry itself and city attributes. For instance, if the growth and expansion of a particular industry depend heavily on information exchange and knowledge spillover, then cities with advanced transportation connectivity and/or that serve as a hub in the national transportation network will be suitable to cultivate such an industry. Other attributes, such as amenities, pre-existing industrial structure, and research capacity, are all likely to make a difference.

In the second stage, we link the city’s growth potential with the real estate market. For the first layer, industry development requires the provision of office and production space accordingly, and the recruitment of laborers requires housing supply and commercial supporting facilities as well. For the second layer, when the entry of emerging industries facilitates economic growth of a city, the total productivity, economic vibrancy and city openness would increase and create new real estate market potential, perhaps most of which mainly focuses on commercial property. In this case, the changing city growth potential may further affect real estate asset price dynamics and investment performance.





Simon Buechler

Post-Doctoral Fellow at MIT CRE, the Real Estate Price Dynamics Platform. PhD in Economics. His research focuses on public, urban and real estate economics


Anne Thompson

Visting Lecturer and Research analyst at the MIT CRE. She teaches Real Economics & Real Estate Finance. Anne also does research examining the relationships between real estate and other data utilizing GIS. She also works with Robert Shiller of Yale University aannual Home Buyer Survey


Zhengzhen Tan

Lecturer MIT CRE, Department of Urban Studies and Planning. She teaches urban innovation and entrepreneurship. Her research focus is in digital cities and digital transformation of real estate industry


Dongxiao Niu

 Second-year PhD student in Tsinghua University and she is visiting MIT DUSP; Master in Economics from Peking University. Her research focuses on high-speed rails in China and urban economics


David Maroti

Masters in Real Estate Development Candidate at MIT Center for Real Estate, Paul Sun Research Fellow 


Siqi Zheng

Samuel Tak Lee Professor, MIT CRE/DUSP. Faculty Director, MIT Sustainable Urbanization Lab. Her research focuses on urban and environmental economics/policy, environmental sustainability, place-based policies and self-sustaining urban growth


David Geltner

 Professor of Real Estate Finance, Associate Director of Research, MIT Center for Real Estate. He is the recipient of U.S. Pension Real Estate Association’s prestigious Graaskamp Award in 2011 for excellence and influence in real estate investment research

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