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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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  • Gerald A. Carlino & Albert Saiz, 2008. "City Beautiful," Working Papers 08-22, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:08-22
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    1. Paper of the Day
      by ryan in The bellows on 2008-10-24 23:14:59

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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Nancy Holman, 2015. "Distinctively Different: A New Approach to Valuing Architectural Amenities," SERC Discussion Papers 0171, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    2. Gerald A. Carlino, 2011. "Three keys to the city: resources, agglomeration economies, and sorting," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q3, pages 1-13.
    3. Gerald A. Carlino & Robert M. Hunt, 2009. "What explains the quantity and quality of local inventive activity?," Working Papers 09-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    4. Kahn, Matthew E. & Walsh, Randall, 2015. "Cities and the Environment," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2014. "The Growth of Cities," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 781-853 Elsevier.
    6. 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.
    7. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2014. "The Growth of Cities," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 781-853 Elsevier.
    8. Peter McHenry, 2014. "The Geographic Distribution Of Human Capital: Measurement Of Contributing Mechanisms," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 215-248, March.
    9. Mark van Duijn & Jan Rouwendal & Richard Boersema, 2014. "Transformations of Industrial Heritage: Insights into External Effects on House Prices," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-122/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    10. 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.
    11. van Duijn, Mark & Rouwendal, Jan & Boersema, Richard, 2016. "Redevelopment of industrial heritage: Insights into external effects on house prices," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 91-107.
    12. Leknes, Stefan, 2015. "The more the merrier? Evidence on quality of life and population size using historical mines," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-17.
    13. Howard Bodenhorn & David Cuberes, 2010. "Financial Development and City Growth: Evidence from Northeastern American Cities, 1790-1870," NBER Working Papers 15997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cities and towns;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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