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Do People Vote with Their Feet? An Empirical Test of Environmental Gentrification

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  • Banzhaf, H. Spencer

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Walsh, Randy

Abstract

Tiebout’s (1956) suggestion that people “vote with their feet” to find the community that provides their optimal bundle of taxes and public goods has played a central role in the theory of local public finance over the past 50 years. Given the central importance of Tiebout’s insights, there have been surprisingly few direct tests of his premise. In this paper, we use a Tiebout equilibrium model to derive testable hypotheses about changes in local community demographics. The model clearly predicts increased population density in neighborhoods that experience an exogenous increase in public goods but yields only tentative predictions about the effect on neighborhood composition. To test these hypotheses, we use a difference-in-difference model to identify the effect of initial pollution levels and changes in local pollution on population and demographic composition. Our results provide strong empirical support for the notion that households “vote with their feet” in response to changes in environmental quality. This result has two implications. First, and most broadly, it provides direct empirical support for the assumptions underlying the Tiebout model. Second, in our particular application, the potential for what we call “environmental gentrification” has important implications both for the analysis of environmental equity and for the design of environmental policies aimed at benefiting the less-advantaged elements of society.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-06-10.

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Date of creation: 08 Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-06-10

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Keywords: Tiebout; gentrification; air quality;

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References

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  1. Brooks, Nancy & Sethi, Rajiv, 1997. "The Distribution of Pollution: Community Characteristics and Exposure to Air Toxics," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 233-250, February.
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  4. Holger Sieg & V. Kerry Smith & H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randy Walsh, 2004. "Estimating The General Equilibrium Benefits Of Large Changes In Spatially Delineated Public Goods," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1047-1077, November.
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  10. Gramlich, Edward M & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1982. "Micro Estimates of Public Spending Demand Functions and Tests of the Tiebout and Median-Voter Hypotheses," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 536-60, June.
  11. Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "Smog Reduction's Impact on California County Growth," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(3), pages 565-582.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Michael Greenstone & Justin Gallagher, 2005. "Does Hazardous Waste Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market and the Superfund Program," Working Papers 2005.149, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Laurent, Éloi, 2011. "Issues in environmental justice within the European Union," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1846-1853, September.
  3. Ed Balsdon, 2007. "Property Value Capitalization And Municipal Open Space Referenda," Working Papers 0019, San Diego State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Lucas W. Davis, 2008. "The Effect of Power Plants on Local Housing Values and Rents: Evidence from Restricted Census Microdata," Working Papers 0809, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  5. Pham, Hai-Vu, 2010. "La dimension conflictuelle des projets d’infrastructure : essais sur la décision publique, le contentieux et les prix immobiliers," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/5656 edited by Torre, André & Kirat, Thierry.

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