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The economic impact of greening urban vacant land: a spatial difference-in-differences analysis


  • Megan Heckert
  • Jeremy Mennis


Vacant land is a serious problem in many cities, and cities have recently begun to explore greening as a management strategy to reduce the negative influence of vacancy. The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pioneered the use of a simple greening treatment—removal of debris coupled with planting grass and trees—as a means of improving blighted communities. Though they are becoming more popular, the actual economic impact of these programs is not well understood. This paper details the use of a spatial difference-in-differences approach for measuring the impact of Philadelphia’s innovative vacant land greening program on nearby residential property values. This approach compares observed changes in property values surrounding treated vacant lots with observed changes around control lots—lots which might have been treated but were not. While property values throughout the city increased during the study period, properties surrounding greened vacant lots had a greater increase in value than properties surrounding nongreened vacant lots. By developing both global and local versions of the model, we also explore spatial variation in the impacts of the program—offering insight into which kinds of neighborhoods might derive the greatest economic benefit from vacant land greening programs. Keywords: greening, vacant land, difference-in-differences

Suggested Citation

  • Megan Heckert & Jeremy Mennis, 2012. "The economic impact of greening urban vacant land: a spatial difference-in-differences analysis," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(12), pages 3010-3027, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:12:p:3010-3027

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    Cited by:

    1. Andre Chagas & Carlos Azzoni & Alexandre Almeida, 2015. "A Spatial Difference-in-Difference Analysis to Measure the Sugarcane Producing Impact in Respiratory Health," ERSA conference papers ersa15p511, European Regional Science Association.
    2. repec:col:000411:015720 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:regeco:v:67:y:2017:i:c:p:64-77 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Sunak, Yasin & Madlener, Reinhard, 2016. "The impact of wind farm visibility on property values: A spatial difference-in-differences analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 79-91.
    5. Sunak, Yasin & Madlener, Reinhard, 2014. "Local Impacts of Wind Farms on Property Values: A Spatial Difference-in-Differences Analysis," FCN Working Papers 1/2014, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN), revised Oct 2014.
    6. Chagas, André L.S. & Azzoni, Carlos R. & Almeida, Alexandre N., 2016. "A spatial difference-in-differences analysis of the impact of sugarcane production on respiratory diseases," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 24-36.

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