Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Darren Filson

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Hnin Lei Lei Tun


Impactful design and structure of a city contributes significantly to a city’s growth through increased productivity, innovation, and population. In this paper, I use panel data on 130 US and Canadian cities across a seven-year period, from 2015 to 2021, with data collected biannually to investigate whether Kevin Lynch’s five essential urban design elements (paths, nodes, edges, districts, landmarks) are correlated with a city’s desirability. Desirability of a city is measured using population density and growth over time. In a pooled regression model with year effects and robust standard errors, I find that a 1% increase in the design elements of paths (p ~ 0.032), edges (p ~ 0.016), districts (p ~ 0.000), nodes (p ~ 0.000), and landmarks (p ~ 0.000) are associated with 0.11%, 0.04%, 0.29%, 0.36%, and 0.11% increases in population respectively. However, in a fixed effects model, the five elements have no statistical significance. The coefficients of paths, districts, and landmarks are negative; this suggests that an increase of these three design elements is associated with decreases in population. I estimate a growth model to examine population growth from 2015 to 2021 as a function of initial design elements in 2015. I find mixed support for a relationship between 2015’s design elements and population growth. While coefficients for paths and districts are positive indicating a positive relationship between city design and city population growth, the coefficients for edges and landmarks are negative. I find that a 1% increase in the design elements of paths (p ~ 0.36), edges (p ~ 0.731), districts (p ~0.081), and landmarks (p ~ 0.51) are associated with 0.22%, -0.04%, 0.39%, -0.12% increases in population respectively.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.