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Ilia Farahani

Ilia Farahani

Doctoral student

Ilia Farahani

Land rent, capital, rate of profit : A critique of Harvey’s model of urban land rent

Author

  • Ilia Farahani

Summary, in English

This study critically evaluates David Harvey’s model of urban land rent and its centrality in his explanation of the material forces that underlie and limit urban land policies, strategies, planning decisions, and investment choices. Harvey emphasizes structural forces of capital in relating economic urbanization processes to uneven patterns of capitalist development, recurrent economic crises of overaccumulation, and the need to produce spaces of accumulation to absorb surplus capital that creates crises. He argues that the movement of capital (i.e., the mass of new investments) drives urbanization processes and that land rent constitutes a barrier to the free movement of capital from the primary circuit (i.e., productive investments) to the secondary circuit of capital (i.e., investments in built environments) and arises due to monopoly power relations on land markets. Harvey’s Spatial Monopoly Model of Land Rent (SMLR) is empirically and theoretically compared with a proposed Turbulent Inter-Sectoral Model of Land Rent (TILR). The TILR argues that capital moves to sectors with excess (i.e., above-normal) rates of return. The inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral excess rates of return constitute land rent, and turbulent inter-sectoral competition maintains excess rates of return in rent-bearing sectors. The empirical portion of the monograph encompasses a bibliometric study of rent research and three empirical studies: the first two empirical studies compare the SMLR and the TILR in the US and Swedish housing and construction sectors using seminal case studies by Harvey and Eric Clark. The third study operationalizes the TILR on the Iranian housing sector.

It is argued that the SMLR suffers from the following theory-data anomalies: 1) above and beyond a monopoly pricing mechanism, the model offers limited analytical tools for empirical research on rent rates, ceilings, and magnitudes; 2) the model offers inadequate economic mechanisms for macro-level patterns of rent creation and appropriation; 3) it offers an inadequate explanation for the historical contingency of macro and micro-level rent creation and appropriation; 4) it breaks with its structural starting points and does not offer a consistently endogenous structural analysis of rent creation and appropriation.

In analyzing the relation between the rate of profit in manufacturing and construction sectors determining land rent, the TILR explains the source of rent with reference to fluctuations of profit rates rather than the monopoly pricing mechanism (the SMLR’s crucial method). The TILR argues that long-term national (economic) structures, indicated by the falling rate of manufacturing (and aggregate) profit, determine the rate and ceiling of rent. The TILR improves on the SMLR by incorporating alternative analytical tools to measure and explain rent rates, ceilings, and magnitudes and resolves its theory-data anomalies by bringing in the concept of absolute rent, logically dismissed by Harvey and Harvey-inspired urban economic geographers. The concept of absolute rent is inconsistent with core assumptions of the SMLR’s underlying theory of monopolistic competition, which relies on exogenous barriers to the free movement of capital to explain excess rates of return. That hinders the SMLR from incorporating the TILR’s resolutions to the anomalies without inflicting further theoretical tensions. The TILR is rooted in an alternative interpretation of Marx’s economic theory recently revived and advanced by Anwar Shaikh as the theory of turbulent competition. This theory allows the TILR to consistently incorporate the concept of absolute rent, integrate national economic trends and local economic relations, and provide a consistently endogenous structural explanation of rent creation and appropriation.

Department/s

  • Department of Human Geography

Publishing year

2021

Language

English

Document type

Dissertation

Publisher

Lund University

Topic

  • Social and Economic Geography
  • Human Geography

Keywords

  • Urban Land Rent
  • Capitalist Urbanization
  • Rate of Profit
  • Absolute Rent
  • Spatial Monopoly Model of Land Rent
  • Turbulent Inter-Sectoral Model of Land Rent
  • David Harvey
  • Urban Economic Geography
  • Urban Land Rent
  • Capitalist Urbanization
  • Rate of Profit
  • Absolute Rent
  • Spatial Monopoly Model of Land Rent
  • Turbulent Inter-Sectoral Model of Land Rent
  • David Harvey
  • Urban Economic Geography

Status

Published

Supervisor

  • Eric Clark
  • Turaj Faran

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISBN: 978-91-7895-948-8
  • ISBN: 978-91-7895-947-1

Defence date

23 September 2021

Defence time

13:00

Defence place

Världen, Geocentrum I, Sölvegatan 10, Lund

Opponent

  • Jamie Gough (Dr.)