The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 463–477 | Cite as

Choosing cities: a behavioural economic approach

  • Marek Banczyk
  • Joanne Laban
  • Jason PottsEmail author
Special Issue Paper


How do people and firms choose to relocate to new cities? We argue that this difficult yet consequential choice is often poorly made, or not made at all, resulting in undermobility and consequent losses in individual utility and aggregate social welfare. We propose a behavioural economic theory of why this happens and the predictable directions in which failure occurs in terms of characteristic biases and heuristics in city choice (including status quo bias, loss aversion, endowment effect, availability heuristics, present bias, social norms, anchoring, elimination heuristics, sunk cost effects, and regret aversion). We examine how cities and their regional context might mitigate this problem by improving information as inputs into choice and by redesigning the choice architecture to embed effective choice heuristics into city search and match databases.

JEL Classification

D13 D70 D80 R1 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew York CityUSA
  2. 2.CityglobeNew York CityUSA
  3. 3.School of Economics, Finance and MarketingRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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