A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Kevin Lewis

November 24, 2010

Do Liberal Cities Limit New Housing Development? Evidence from California

Matthew Kahn
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Traditional explanations for why some communities block new housing construction focus on incumbent home owner incentives to block entry. Local resident political ideology may also influence community permitting decisions. This paper uses city level panel data across California metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2008 to document that liberal cities grant fewer new housing permits than observationally similar cities located within the same metropolitan area. Cities experiencing a growth in their liberal voter share have a lower new housing permit growth rate.


The Effects of Lottery Prizes on Winners and their Neighbors: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery

Peter Kuhn, Peter Kooreman, Adriaan Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Each week, the Dutch Postcode Lottery (PCL) randomly selects a postal code, and distributes cash and a new BMW to lottery participants in that code. We study the effects of these shocks on lottery winners and their neighbors. Consistent with the life-cycle hypothesis, the effects on winners' consumption are largely confined to cars and other durables. Consistent with the theory of in-kind transfers, the vast majority of BMW winners liquidate their BMWs. We do, however, detect substantial social effects of lottery winnings: PCL nonparticipants who live next door to winners have significantly higher levels of car consumption than other nonparticipants.


The Wrong Side(s) of the Tracks: The Causal Effects of Racial Segregation on Urban Poverty and Inequality

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

At the metropolitan level there is a striking negative correlation between residential racial segregation and population characteristics - particularly of black residents - but it is widely recognized that this correlation may not be causal. This paper provides a novel test of the causal relationship between segregation and population characteristics by exploiting the arrangements of railroad tracks in the 19th century to isolate plausibly exogenous variation in cities' susceptibility to segregation. I show that, conditional on miles of railroad track laid, the extent to which track configurations physically subdivided cities strongly predicts the level of segregation that ensued after the Great Migration of African-Americans to northern and western cities in the 20th century. At the start of the Great Migration, though, track configurations were uncorrelated with racial concentration, ethnic dispersion, income, industry, education, and population, indicating that reverse causality is unlikely. Even today, track configurations have no correlation with population characteristics in cities that were too far from the South to have received significant black in-migration during the Great Migration, which indicates that track configuration does not affect cities through any channel other than racial segregation. Instrumental variables estimates demonstrate that segregation increases cities' rates of black poverty and overall black-white income disparities, while decreasing their rates of white poverty and inequality within the white population.


Bend It Like Beckham: Ethnic Identity and Integration

Alberto Bisin, Eleonora Patacchini, Thierry Verdier & Yves Zenou
NBER Working Paper, October 2010

We propose a theoretical framework to study the determinants of ethnic and religious identity along two distinct motivational processes which have been proposed in the social sciences: cultural conformity and cultural distinction. Under cultural conformity, ethnic identity is reduced by neighborhood integration, which weakens group loyalties and prejudices. On the contrary, under cultural distinction, ethnic minorities are more motivated in retaining their own distinctive cultural heritage the more integrated are the neighborhoods where they reside and work. Data on ethnic preferences and attitudes provided by the Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities in the UK enables us to test the relative significance of these two identity processes. We find evidence consistent with intense ethnic and religious identity mostly formed as a cultural distinction mechanism. Consistently, we document that ethnic identities are more intense in mixed than in segregated neighborhoods.


Density Zoning and Class Segregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Jonathan Rothwell & Douglas Massey
Social Science Quarterly, December 2010, Pages 1123-1143

Objectives: Socioeconomic segregation rose substantially in U.S. cities during the final decades of the 20th century, and we argue that zoning regulations are an important cause of this increase.

Methods: We measure neighborhood economic segregation using the Gini coefficient for neighborhood income inequality and the poor-affluent exposure index. These outcomes are regressed on an index of density zoning developed from the work of Pendall for 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, while controlling for other metropolitan characteristics likely to affect urban housing markets and class segregation.

Results: For both 2000 and changes from 1990 to 2000, OLS estimates reveal a strong relationship between density zoning and income segregation, and replication using 2SLS suggests that the relationship is causal. We also show that zoning is associated with higher interjurisdictional inequality.

Conclusions: Metropolitan areas with suburbs that restrict the density of residential construction are more segregated on the basis of income than those with more permissive density zoning regimes. This arrangement perpetuates and exacerbates racial and class inequality in the United States.


Residential Preferences: What's Terrorism Got to Do with It?

David Kay, Charles Geisler & Nelson Bills
Rural Sociology, September 2010, Pages 426-454

Security has long been recognized as an element in residential preference and its relative importance has risen with fear of extremist attacks on U.S. cities. Using polling data from 2004, this research investigates whether the security breaches of 9/11 in New York City influenced residential preferences in New York State. Our results confirm that perceived risks are greatest downstate but exert little overall net effect on (re)location plans. A stabilizing effect may be evident where preferences are reinforced among upstate residents who respond to downstate risk by strengthening "stay put" attitudes. An inspection of real-estate data in the northern reaches of the New York Metropolitan Area suggests a risk-averse hedging strategy - city residents relocating in stages by acquiring open land and the option to build and move should renewed terrorist attacks occur.


Assessing Neighborhood Racial Segregation and Macroeconomic Effects in the Education of African Americans

Odis Johnson
Review of Educational Research, December 2010, Pages 527-575

The "underclass" debate of the 1980s often concerned the relative importance of neighborhood racial and economic isolation to the educational challenges facing many African Americans. This review organizes the neighborhood effects research that has emerged since that time according to these differing perspectives. The review's triangulated approach assesses (a) the association of a neighborhood's racial segregation and low level of economic resources to less academic success, (b) whether certain neighborhood social processes lower children's educational performance, and (c) if residential opportunity leads to improvements in educational performance after children leave impoverished and segregated neighborhoods for integrated and middle-class areas. The analysis reveals that the education of African Americans appears less affected by neighborhood conditions than the two perspectives suggest, at least as they are currently conceptualized and measured. The results are contextualized with the author's identification of areas in the field where more research is needed, the problems and promise associated with particular analytical strategies, and other social, school-based, and human development dynamics that complicate the estimation of neighborhood influences in education.


Opportunities for Making Ends Meet and Upward Mobility: Differences in Organizational Deprivation Across Urban and Suburban Poor Neighborhoods

Alexandra Murphy & Danielle Wallace
Social Science Quarterly, December 2010, Pages 1164-1186

Objectives: Given the recent rise of poverty in U.S. suburbs, this study asks: What poor neighborhoods are most disadvantageous, those in the city or those in the suburbs? Building on recent urban sociological work demonstrating the importance of neighborhood organizations for the poor, we are concerned with one aspect of disadvantage-the lack of availability of organizational resources oriented toward the poor. By breaking down organizations into those that promote mobility versus those that help individuals meet their daily subsistence needs, we seek to explore potential variations in the type of disadvantage that may exist. Methods: We test whether poor urban or suburban neighborhoods are more likely to be organizationally deprived by breaking down organizations into three types: hardship organizations, educational organizations, and employment organizations. We use data from the 2000 U.S. County Business Patterns and the 2000 U.S. Census and test neighborhood deprivation using logistic regression models.

Results: We find that suburban poor neighborhoods are more likely to be organizationally deprived than are urban poor neighborhoods, especially with respect to organizations that promote upward mobility. Interesting racial and ethnic composition factors shape this more general finding.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that if a poor individual is to live in a poor neighborhood, with respect to access to organizational resources, he or she would be better off living in the central city. Suburban residence engenders isolation from organizations that will help meet one's daily needs and even more so from those offering opportunities for mobility.


The Neighborhood Food Environment and Adult Weight Status: Estimates From Longitudinal Data

Diane Gibson
American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming

Objectives: I used longitudinal data to consider the relationship between the neighborhood food environment and adult weight status.

Methods: I combined individual-level data on adults from the 1998 through 2004 survey years of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 with zip code-level data on the neighborhood food environment. I estimated ordinary least squares models of obesity, body mass index (BMI), and change in BMI.

Results: For residents of urban areas, the neighborhood density of small grocery stores was positively and significantly related to obesity and BMI. For individuals who moved from a rural area to an urban area over a 2-year period, changes in neighborhood supermarket density, small grocery store density, and full-service restaurant density were significantly related to the change in BMI over that period.

Conclusions: Residents of urban neighborhoods with a higher concentration of small grocery stores may be more likely to patronize these stores and consume more calories because small grocery stores tend to offer more unhealthy food options than healthy food options. Moving to an urban area may expose movers to a wider variety of food options that may influence calorie consumption.


Perceived School and Neighborhood Safety, Neighborhood Violence and Academic Achievement in Urban School Children

A.J. Milam, C.D.M. Furr-Holden & P.J. Leaf
Urban Review, December 2010, Pages 458-467

Community and school violence continue to be a major public health problem, especially among urban children and adolescents. Little research has focused on the effect of school safety and neighborhood violence on academic performance. This study examines the effect of the school and neighborhood climate on academic achievement among a population of 3rd-5th grade students in an urban public school system. Community and school safety were assessed using the School Climate Survey, an annual City-wide assessment of student's perception of school and community safety. Community violence was measured using the Neighborhood Inventory for Environmental Typology, an objective observational assessment of neighborhood characteristics. Academic achievement was measured using the Maryland State Assessment (MSA), a standardized exam given to all Maryland 3rd-8th graders. School Climate Data and MSA data were aggregated by school and grade. Objective assessments of neighborhood environment and students' self-reported school and neighborhood safety were both strongly associated with academic performance. Increasing neighborhood violence was associated with statistically significant decreases from 4.2 to 8.7% in math and reading achievement; increasing perceived safety was associated with significant increases in achievement from 16 to 22%. These preliminary findings highlight the adverse impact of perceived safety and community violence exposure on primary school children's academic performance.


Public housing revisited: Racial differences, housing assistance, and socioeconomic attainment among low-income families

Yumiko Aratani
Social Science Research, November 2010, Pages 1108-1125

This study investigates racial differences in the short-term and long-term effect of living in public housing as a child on socioeconomic attainment among young adults from low-income families. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 data and state-level public housing information, propensity score matching estimations addressed the self-selection problems encountered when evaluating the impact of welfare programs. The study findings indicate that Blacks with short-term public housing residence during adolescence seem to be more disadvantaged in terms of housing self-sufficiency and car ownership in an early adulthood than their low-income Black counterparts who lived in private housing. In the long run; however, public housing residence had very small effects on socioeconomic attainment of both White and Black young adults. The benefits of public housing in terms of providing a secure residence for economically vulnerable groups; therefore, outweigh any potential negative impacts.


Exit, Voice, and Electoral Turnover

Lapo Salucci & Kenneth Bickers
Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Much of the contemporary literature on metropolitan politics revolves around the mobility of local residents and the implications this has both for policies of local governments and for the racial composition of local populations. In this article, the authors hypothesize that resort to exit is a function of the extent to which local residents lack effective access to institutionalized forms of voice, in particular availability of opportunities for replacing elected officials viewed as unresponsive to local needs and concerns. The authors test this argument with information from a 2002 survey of residents of four of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, along with census data about their neighborhoods and data on electoral turnover in their municipal governments. The authors find evidence that intentions to leave a city are indeed conditional both on dissatisfaction with key collective goods and services (in particular local public schools and neighborhoods) and lack of effective opportunities for the replacement of locally elected public officials. The authors find evidence of racially driven motivations for exit, but the direction is inconsistent and the magnitude of the racial effect is smaller than that deriving from dissatisfaction with services where electoral turnover is low.


School Quality and Residential Property Values: Evidence from Vancouver Rezoning

John Ries & Tsur Somerville
Review of Economics and Statistics, November 2010, Pages 928-944

This study utilizes changes in the catchment areas of public schools in Vancouver, British Columbia, to measure the residential price capitalization of school quality. Specifications that employ repeat sales methods to control for time-invariant neighborhood effects and disaggregated price indexes to capture time-varying neighborhood price appreciation reveal significant effects of secondary school performance on residential prices. However, when we add controls for long-run price trends in rezoned areas, only prices of residences likely to be purchased by high-income families appear to have been affected by changes in school quality induced by rezoning.


Linking dichotomous segregation with multi-group segregation: Weighted segregation ratios in selected U.S. metropolitan areas

Lingxin Hao & Eric Fong
Social Science Research, January 2011, Pages 379-391

The U.S. residential landscape is increasingly multi-racial and multi-ethnic, giving rise to the question of how to compare dichotomous segregation among multiple groups living in the same area. To address the problem in the existing dichotomous approach, which offers no common basis for comparing dichotomous segregation among multiple groups, this paper develops a weighted segregation ratio approach based on Theil's segregation index and its additive decomposability. This approach can be used to bridge information obtained from dichotomous segregation between specific groups (such as black-white and black-Hispanic), and dichotomous segregation between group and non-group (such as white-non-white and black-non-black) in previous studies. We apply both dichotomous and weighted segregation ratio approaches to 1990 and 2000 U.S. census data. Results are interpreted for five selected metropolitan areas as well as for the weighted national average. This new approach yields distinctive findings that portray the complicated process of residential segregation, including the increasing significance of Hispanic segregation and Asian segregation in the decade from 1990 to 2000.

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