Publications

  • Disentangling the Racial Test Score Gap: Probing the Evidence in a Large Urban School District

    We examine the size and distribution of the gap in test scores across races within New York City public schools and the factors that explain these gaps. While gaps are partially explained by differences in student characteristics, such as poverty, differences in schools attended are also important. At the same time, substantial within-school gaps remain and are only partly explained by differences in academic preparation across students from different race groups. Controlling for differences in classrooms attended explains little of the remaining gap, suggesting little role for within-school inequities in resources. There is some evidence that school characteristics matter. Race gaps are negatively correlated with school size—implying small schools may be helpful. In addition, the trade-off between the size and experience of the teaching staff in urban schools may carry unintended consequences for within-school race gaps.

  • Government Policies and Household Size:  Evidence from New York

    What determines how many adults live in a house? How do people divide themselves up among households? Average household sizes vary substantially, both over time and in the cross-section. In this paper, we describe how a variety of government policies affect living arrangements, intentionally or not. Using data from a survey of households in New York City, we find that these incentives appear to have an impact. Specifically, households receiving these housing and income subsidies are smaller on average (measured by number of adults). The impacts appear to be considerably larger than those that would occur if the programs were lump-sum transfers. Small average household size can be extremely expensive in terms of physical and environmental resources, higher rents, and possibly homelessness. Thus, we encourage policymakers to pay greater heed to the provisions built into various social policies that favor smaller households.

  • The Condominium v. Cooperative Puzzle: An Empirical Analysis of Housing in New York City

    One of the enduring puzzles of New York City’s housing market is the persistence of the housing cooperative, despite the prevailing wisdom that condominiums are more valuable than cooperatives. In this article, we examine the theoretical advantages and disadvantages of cooperatives and condominiums, and apply these theoretical insights to empirically test whether there is a price premium attributable to condominium housing. We then use our findings to speculate as to why the cooperative form remains dominant in New York City and whether its dominance is likely to continue in the future. The empirical analysis is based on hedonic models of house values and uses rich data on apartments sold in New York City between 1984 and 2002.

  • What do Business Improvement Districts do for Property Owners?

    The article explores on the impact of business improvement districts (BIDS) to property owners in New York City. The scheme is essential to private local governments through the businesses' pay fees to supplement the package of public services in their local area. By using difference-in-difference (DD) hedonic modeling approach, one can estimate changes in property values in BID areas compared to those non-BID areas.

  • The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values

    Cities across the United States that have considerable vacant land are debating whether to foster community gardens on that land, while cities with land shortages are debating when to replace gardens with other uses. Meanwhile, many cities are looking for new ways to finance green spaces. Little empirical evidence about the neighborhood impacts of community gardens is available, however, to inform the debate or to help cities design financing schemes. This paper estimates the impact of community gardens on neighborhood property values, using rich data for New York City and a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model. We find that gardens have significant positive effects, especially in the poorest neighborhoods. Higher quality gardens have the greatest positive impact.

  • The Impact of Business Improvement Districts on Property Values: Evidence from New York City

    Our paper aims to fill this gap by examining the impact of BIDs on commercial property values in New York City. With the largest pool of BIDs in the country, New York is an ideal study site. Its 55 BIDs encompass a broad range of budget sizes, services and locations. This large and diverse set of BIDs, together with the city’s tremendous size and diversity of neighborhoods, allows us to examine the impact of BIDs in very different types of areas, including both very high-density office districts and more suburban-style, retail strips. Thus, we can gain some insight into the underlying mechanisms through which BIDs influence property values and the circumstances under which BIDs may be a useful tool for local economic development. Further, the diversity of BID and neighborhood types offers the opportunity to examine the robustness of our findings, and gauge the extent to which the lessons learned can be generalized and applied to other cities and circumstances.

  • Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?

    Few communities welcome subsidized housing, with one of the most commonly voiced fears being reductions in property values. Yet there is little empirical evidence that subsidized housing depresses neighborhood property values. This paper estimates and compares the neighborhood impacts of a broad range of federally-subsidized, rental housing programs, using rich data for New York City and a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model.

  • Comment on ‘Metropolitan Growth, Inequality, and Neighborhood Segregation by Income’

    Over the last three decades, residential segregation by income has become an increasingly important feature of the U.S. metropolitan landscape. From 1970 to 2000, income sorting grew in large cities. In the 1980s almost all American metropolitan areas experienced a rise in segregation of the rich from the poor, though these changes were slightly offset by modest declines in segregation during the 1990s. More than 85 percent of the U.S. metropolitan population lived in an area that was more segregated by income in 2000 than in 1970. The time trend in residential segregation by income hints that income inequality may play an explanatory role.

  • The External Effects of Place-Based Subsidized Housing

    This study examines the external effects of subsidized housing built in New York City during the late 1980s and 1990s. The paper finds significant and sustained benefits to the surrounding neighborhood. Neighborhood benefits increase with project size and decrease with distance from the project sites. A simple cost-benefit analysis suggests that New York City’s housing investments delivered a tax benefit to the city that exceeded the cost of the city subsidies provided.

  • Nonprofit Housing and Neighborhood Spillovers

    Nonprofit organizations play a critical role in U.S. housing policy, a role typically justified by the claim that their housing investments produce significant neighborhood spillover benefits. However, little work has actually been done to measure these impacts on neighborhoods. This paper compares the neighborhood spillover effects of city-supported rehabilitation of rental housing undertaken by nonprofit and for-profit developers, using data from New York City. To measure these benefits, we use increases in neighboring property values, estimated from a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model. We study the impacts of about 43,000 units of city-supported housing completed during the 1980s and 1990s, and our sample of property transactions includes nearly 300,000 individual sales.