Publications

  • Do Neighborhoods Matter and Why?

    “Choosing a Better Life?” is the first distillation of years of research on the MTO project, the largest rigorously designed social experiment to investigate the consequences of moving low-income public housing residents to low-poverty neighborhoods. In this book, leading social scientists and policy experts examine the legislative and political foundations of the project, analyze the effects of MTO on lives of the families involved, and explore lessons learned from this important piece of U.S. social policy.

  • Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital

    A perennial question in housing policy concerns the form that housing assistance should take. Although some argue that housing assistance should be thought of as a form of income support and advocate direct cash grants to needy households, others favor earmarked assistance—but they differ over whether subsidies should be given to the recipients as vouchers or to developers as production subsidies.

  • What Have We Learned from HUD’s Moving to Opportunity Program?

    “Choosing a Better Life?” is the first distillation of years of research on the MTO project, the largest rigorously designed social experiment to investigate the consequences of moving low-income public housing residents to low-poverty neighborhoods. In this book, leading social scientists and policy experts examine the legislative and political foundations of the project, analyze the effects of MTO on lives of the families involved, and explore lessons learned from this important piece of U.S. social policy.

  • Estimating the External Effects of Subsidized Housing Investment on Property Values

    Although housing investment is often promoted as a tool for neighborhood improvement, prior empirical research has failed to provide convincing evidence that subsidized housing investment generates significant external effects. This paper revisits the external effects of subsidized housing investment. With the benefit of a very rich dataset, we use a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model to estimate the spillover effects of publicly-assisted housing units produced under the New York City Ten Year Plan program.

  • Has Falling Crime Driven New York City’s Real Estate Boom?

    We investigate whether falling crime has driven New York City’s post-1994 real estate boom, as media reports suggest. We address this by decomposing trends in the city’s property value from 1988 to 1998 into components due to crime, the city’s investment in subsidized low-income housing, the quality of public schools, and other factors. We use rich data and employ both hedonic and repeat-sales house price models, which allow us to control for unobservable neighborhood and building-specific effects. We find that the popular story touting the overwhelming importance of crime rates has some truth to it. Falling crime rates are responsible for about a third of the post-1994 boom in property values. However, this story is incomplete because it ignores the revitalization of New York City’s poorer communities and the large role that housing subsidies played in mitigating the earlier bust.

  • Regulatory Barriers to Housing Development in the United States

    Nothing provides as much material for comparative legal study as the great variety of rule-making that characterizes land law. Land law is perhaps the only legal area in which the leveling march of globalized uniformity has had to yield to the progressive development of local customary law.

  • Revitalizing Inner City Neighborhoods: New York City’s Ten Year Plan For Housing

    This article examines the impact of Mayor Koch’s $5.1 billion, 10-year plan for housing on the sale prices of homes in surrounding neighborhoods. The paper finds that properties in the immediate vicinity of homes newly built or renovated through the 10-year plan rose in value relative to comparable properties further away, suggesting the housing investments helped to spur revitalization in the distressed neighborhoods targeted.

  • Telecommuting and the Demand for Urban Living: A Preliminary Look at White-Collar Workers

    With recent advances in communications technology, telecommuting appears to be an increasingly viable option for many workers. For urban researchers, the key question is whether this growing ability to telecommute is altering residential location decisions and leading households to live in smaller, lower-density and more remote locations. Using the Work Schedules supplement from the 1997 Current Population Study, this paper explores this question. Specifically, it examines the prevalence of telecommuting, explores the relationship between telecommuting and the residential choices of white-collar workers and, finally, speculates about future impacts on residential patterns and urban form.

  • Immigrant Children and Urban Schools: Evidence from NYC on Segregation and its Consequences

    For several decades, social scientists have tracked the fiscal health of American central cities with some degree of concern. Suburbanization, spawned by technological innovations, consumer preferences, and at least to some extent by government policy, has selectively pulled affluent households out of urban jurisdictions. The leaders of these jurisdictions are left with the prospect of satisfying more concentrated demands for services with a dwindling tax base, realizing that further increasing the burden they place on residents will simply drive more of them away. In the process, cities have become concentrated centers of poverty, joblessness, crime, and other social pathologies.

  • Neighborhood Effects on Health: Exploring the Links and Assessing the Evidence

    This article explores the possible causal pathways through which neighborhoods might affect health and then reviews the existing evidence. Although methodological issues make the literature inconclusive, the authors offer a provisional hypothesis for how neighborhoods shape health outcomes. They hypothesize that neighborhoods may primarily influence health in two ways: first, through relatively short-term influences on behaviors, attitudes, and health-care utilization, thereby affecting health conditions that are most immediately responsive to such influences; and second, through a longer-term process of “weathering,” whereby the accumulated stress, lower environmental quality, and limited resources of poorer communities, experienced over many years, erodes the health of residents in ways that make them more vulnerable to mortality from any given disease. Finally, drawing on the more extensive research that has been done exploring the effects of neighborhoods on education and employment, the authors suggest several directions for future research.