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City Beautiful

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  • Gerald A. Carlino
  • Albert Saiz

Abstract

The City Beautiful movement, which in the early 20th century advocated city beautification as a way to improve the living conditions and civic virtues of the urban dweller, had languished by the Great Depression. Today, new urban economic theorists and policymakers are coming to see the provision of consumer leisure amenities as a way to attract population, especially the highly skilled and their employers. However, past studies have provided only indirect evidence of the importance of leisure amenities for urban development. In this paper we propose and validate the number of leisure trips to metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) as a measure of consumers' revealed preferences for local leisure-oriented amenities. Population and employment growth in the 1990s was about 2 percent higher in an MSA with twice as many leisure visits: the third most important predictor of recent population growth in standardized terms. Moreover, this variable does a good job of forecasting out-of-sample growth for the period 2000-2006. “Beautiful cities” disproportionally attracted highly educated individuals and experienced faster housing price appreciation, especially in supply-inelastic markets. Investment by local government in new public recreational areas within an MSA was positively associated with higher subsequent city attractiveness. In contrast to the generally declining trends in the American central city, neighborhoods that were close to “central recreational districts” have experienced economic growth, albeit at the cost of minority displacement.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 08-22.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:08-22

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Keywords: Cities and towns;

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  1. Paper of the Day
    by ryan in The bellows on 2008-10-24 18:14:59
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Cited by:
  1. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Wolfgang Maennig & Felix J. Richter, 2013. "Urban Renewal after the Berlin Wall," Working Papers 049, Chair for Economic Policy, University of Hamburg.
  2. Peter McHenry, 2010. "The Geographic Distribution of Human Capital: Measurement of Contributing Mechanisms," Working Papers, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary 92, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  3. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2013. "The Growth Of Cities," Working Papers, CEMFI wp2013_1308, CEMFI.
  4. David Albouy, 2008. "Are Big Cities Bad Places to Live? Estimating Quality of Life across Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 14472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gerald Carlino & Robert Hunt, 2009. "What explains the quantity and quality of local inventive activity?," Working Papers 09-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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