Publications

  • Declining Credit and Growing Disparities: Key Findings from HMDA 2007

    This analysis evaluates a recent decline in home purchase and refinance lending activity in New York City and the country as a whole, and identifies disparities in how that decline in lending has affected borrowers of different races.

  • Supporting Integrative Choices

    The author draws on her research on racially integrated neighborhoods—and in particular neighborhoods shared by white and black households—in order to suggest a few policies that might help to promote racial integration.

  • The High Cost of Segregation: Exploring Racial Disparities in High-Cost Lending

    This article argues that policy makers addressing racial disparities in the share of subprime mortgages must take into account the relationship between existing levels of racial segregation and the racial disparities in the types of mortgages homeowners received. The authors examine approximately 200 metropolitan areas across the country and note the significant racial disparities in the percentage of subprime mortgages received by different racial groups. Various mechanisms that explain these racial disparities are also explored. The authors ultimately conclude that residential segregation plays a significant role in shaping lending patterns.

  • Reversal of Fortunes? Low Income Neighborhoods in the US in the 1990s

    This paper offers new empirical evidence about the prospects of lower-income, US urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. Using the Neighborhood Change Database, which offers a balanced panel of census tracts with consistent boundaries from 1970 to 2000 for all metropolitan areas in the US, evidence is found of a significant shift in the fortunes of lower-income, urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. There was a notable increase in the 1990s in the proportion of lower-income and poor neighbourhoods experiencing a gain in economic status. Secondly, in terms of geographical patterns, it is found that this upgrading occurred throughout the country, not just in selected regions or cities. Finally, it is found that the determinants of changes in lower-income, urban neighbourhoods shifted during the 1990s. In contrast to earlier decades, both the share of Blacks and the poverty rate were positively related to subsequent economic gain in these neighbourhoods during the 1990s.

  • The Effects of Inclusionary Zoning on Local Housing Markets

    This study evaluates the impact of Inclusionary Zoning policies on housing markets in the San Francisco, Washington D.C. and suburban Boston areas. The analysis provides local decision-makers with valuable evidence on the impacts of IZ—a popular but often-controversial affordable housing policy.  The policy brief includes an update from February 2010, summarizing additional research that has been completed since the original publication in March, 2008.

  • How Integrated Did We Become During the 1990s?

    Although levels of residential segregation remain undeniably high, this emphasis on segregation can obscure the fact that integrated communities do exist and, as one of the key findings here demonstrate, are becoming more, not less, common.

  • 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.

  • The Effects of Inclusionary Zoning on Local Housing Markets

    Many local governments in metropolitan areas with high housing costs are adopting inclusionary zoning (IZ) as a means of producing housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income households without direct public subsidies. Critics charge that IZ ordinances impose additional costs on new development and may lead to reductions in supply and increases in the price of market rate housing. Advocates of IZ argue that any negative effects IZ might have on production can be mitigated through density bonuses or other cost offsets. Rigorous empirical study of the effects of inclusionary zoning ordinances has been hampered by the lack of accurate, timely data describing IZ and the land use regulatory schemes in which IZ programs fit. In this paper, we use panel data on the adoption and characteristics of IZ in the San Francisco and Washington DC metropolitan areas and the Boston-area suburbs to analyze which jurisdictions adopt IZ, how much affordable housing the programs produce and the effects of IZ on the prices and production of market-rate housing. The IZ programs among our sample jurisdictions are complex policies and exhibit considerable variation in their design, particularly across the three regions. We find that larger, more highly educated jurisdictions and those surrounded by more neighbors with IZ are more likely to adopt IZ. Whether and how many affordable units are produced under IZ depends primarily on the length of time IZ has been in place. The results from Boston-area suburbs provide some evidence that IZ has contributed to increased housing prices and lower rates of housing production. There is no evidence that IZ has constrained supply or increased prices among Bay Area jurisdictions. Limitations on the availability and quality of our data suggest that our results should be interpreted cautiously, but also suggest that IZ programs should be designed cautiously to mitigate possible negative impacts on housing supply.

  • 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 Benefits of Business Improvement Districts: Evidence from New York City

    This study is the first large-scale study of the impact of Business Improvement Districts on commercial property values.  The report explores what these findings mean and how they can be used to better understand the role these organizations play in local economic development.