• Research Area: Neighborhood Conditions ×
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  • Spatial Stratification within US Metropolitan Areas

    In most metropolitan areas, central cities and older, inner-ring suburbs tend to have lower-skilled and less affluent populations, lower tax bases, as well as more deteriorated housing stocks and infrastructures, than their newer, outer-ring suburban neighbors. And the segregation becomes even more apparent if comparisons are made across individual neighborhoods within these jurisdictions. The first section, in order to set the stage, documents the magnitude of the spatial and jurisdictional disparities within the average metropolitan area and determines how these have changed in recent years. Many researchers go no further and thus overlook the surprising diversity found across different metropolitan areas in the magnitude of disparities. This paper, however, makes this variation its central concern. To this end, the second section classifies metropolitan areas on the basis of the magnitude of their central-city-suburban disparities and identifies certain metropolitan-area characteristics (such as population size, the degree of racial segregation, and the elasticity of the central-city boundaries) that are correlated with greater and lesser disparities. The third section then estimates a simple, cross-sectional regression that tests which, if any, of these correlations persist after controlling for other factors. Although more definitive conclusions regarding the precise causes of the jurisdictional disparities would be desirable, they would require further statistical analysis that lies outside the scope of this particular project.

  • Spatial Inequality and the Distribution of Industrial Toxic Releases: Evidence From the 1990 TRI

    This research investigates environmental justice activists’ claims that pollution is unevenly distributed across communities in the United States. We examine three possible explanations for environmental inequity: racial discrimination, economic stratification, and urban ecology.

  • Housing and Community Development in New York City: Facing the Future

    Provides a comprehensive, up-to-date description and analysis of the housing and neighborhood problems facing residents of the nation’s largest city, and the policies that have been developed to solve these problems.

  • Polarisation, Public Housing and Racial Minorities

    Cities in the US have become home to an increasing concentration of poor households, disproportionately composed of racial and ethnic minorities. In the US, poor and minority populations are overrepresented in public housing, mostly located in central cities. Racial and ethnic minorities in American public housing are, for the most part, composed of native-born households whereas in Europe they are more likely to be foreign-born. After a description of this concentration of poor and minority populations in public housing, we examine the effect of public housing on neighbourhood poverty rates in central cities. We construct a longitudinal database (1950-90) for four large cities-Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia—and examine the relationship between the location of public housing and changes in neighborhood poverty rates. We find that in each city, one or more of the variables relating to the existence of public housing is significantly related to increases in neighbourhood poverty rates in succeeding decades.

  • An Economic Analysis of Housing Abandonment

    Landlord abandonment of rental housing has affected many American cities since the 1960’s. Because of data limitations, there have been few empirical analyses of the determinants of housing abandonment. In this paper, we use a rich database that contains information on individual residential properties in New York City to estimate a reduced form model of owner abandonment. We model an owner’s decision to abandon his or her property as being similar to an investor’s decision to exercise a put option on a financial instrument. When required to pay delinquent taxes, a wealth-maximizing landlord has an incentive to cede ownership of his or her residential property when the value of all outstanding liens exceeds the property’s market value. Estimates from the model are used to examine whether empirical evidence supports this option model of abandonment.

  • Blaine’s Wake: School Choice, the First Amendment, and State Constitutional Law

    Focuses on the issue of school choice, while giving an explanation on the awkward position in which the United States federalism has placed on the ideal of religious freedom. Details on the history of the Blaine Amendment; Role of the court in determining the status of school choice in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Vermont; Review of the federal case law related to school choice.

  • Stable, Racial Integration in the Contemporary United States: An Empirical Overview

    This article presents a broad empirical overview of the extent of racial integration in the contemporary United States. It begins with a discussion of how to measure stable racial integration in neighborhoods. Then, examining data from 34 metropolitan areas, it shows that while integrated neighborhoods containing blacks and whites are considerably less stable than more homogeneous communities, a majority remain integrated over time. Moreover, integration appears to be growing more viable, with racially integrated communities more likely to be stable during the 1980s than during the previous decade. The growing prevalence of stable, racially integrated neighborhoods is an important fact, running counter to the popular, and often self-fulfilling, view that integration is unviable. These communities offer important research opportunities as well. A better understanding of the circumstances under which racial integration seems to succeed will ultimately shed light on the causes of America’s undeniably extreme level of segregation.

  • Miracle on Sixth Avenue: Information Externalities and Search

    After a long dormant period, Lower Sixth Avenue in New York has under gone a rapid revitalisation. We show that a simple search theoretic model with information spillovers can explain both the period of underuse and the rapid turnaround. The model reduces to a simple equation, which allows us to do comparative statics on the duration of vacancies. We show how the solution reacts to changes in market structure and changes in search technology. The model is suggestive of difficulties that may occur in many markets in which there are changes over time in the optimal use of resources.

  • Welcome Neighbors? New Evidence on the Possibility of Stable Racial Integration

    The conventional wisdom on racial integration in the United States is that there are three kinds of neighborhoods: the all-white neighborhood, the all-black neighborhood, and the exceedingly rare, highly unstable, racially mixed neighborhood. The only real disagreement is about why so few neighborhoods are successfully integrated. Some attribute it to white discrimination pure and simple: whites, that is, have consciously and determinedly excluded blacks from their communities. Others contend that it is a matter of minority choice. Like Norwegians in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge and Italians in Manhattan's Little Italy, African Americans, they explain, prefer to live among their own kind. Finally, others maintain that segregation is driven mainly by income differences across racial groups. But almost all agree that when African Americans do manage to gain a foothold in a previously all-white community, the whites move away in droves—a phenomenon well known as "white flight." Integration is no more than, in the words of Saul Alinsky, the "time between when the first black moves in and last white moves out."

  • Does Neighborhood Matter? Assessing Recent Evidence

    This article synthesizes findings from a wide range of empirical research into how neighborhoods affect families and children. It lays out a conceptual framework for understanding how neighborhoods may affect people at different life stages. It then identifies methodological challenges, summarizes past research findings, and suggests priorities for future work.