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Identifying Individual and Group Effects in the Presence of Sorting: A Neighborhood Effects Application

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  • Patrick Bayer
  • Stephen L. Ross

Abstract

Researchers have long recognized that the non-random sorting of individuals into groups generates correlation between individual and group attributes that is likely to bias naïve estimates of both individual and group effects. This paper proposes a non-parametric strategy for identifying these effects in a model that allows for both individual and group unobservables, applying this strategy to the estimation of neighborhood effects on labor market outcomes. The first part of this strategy is guided by a robust feature of the equilibrium in vertical sorting models - a monotonic relationship between neighborhood housing prices and neighborhood quality. This implies that under certain conditions a non-parametric function of neighborhood housing prices serves as a suitable control function for the neighborhood unobservable in the labor market outcome regression. This control function transforms the problem to a model with one unobservable so that traditional instrumental variables solutions may be applied. In our application, we instrument for each individual's observed neighborhood attributes with the average neighborhood attributes of a set of observationally identical individuals. The neighborhood effects model is estimated using confidential microdata from the 1990 Decennial Census for the Boston MSA. The results imply that the direct effects of geographic proximity to jobs, neighborhood poverty rates, and average neighborhood education are substantially larger than the conditional correlations identified using OLS, although the net effect of neighborhood quality on labor market outcomes remains small. These findings are robust across a wide variety of specifications and robustness checks.

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  • Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross, 2006. "Identifying Individual and Group Effects in the Presence of Sorting: A Neighborhood Effects Application," NBER Working Papers 12211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12211
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    Cited by:

    1. Claire Dujardin & Florence Goffette-Nagot, 2005. "Neighborhood effects, public housing and unemployment in France," Post-Print halshs-00180046, HAL.
    2. Stephen L. Ross, 2009. "Social Interactions within Cities: Neighborhood Environments and Peer Relationships," Working papers 2009-31, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:wyi:journl:002155 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Steven N. Durlauf & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2010. "Social Interactions," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 451-478, September.
    5. Ferguson, Neil T.N. & Michaelsen, Maren M., 2015. "Money changes everything? Education and regional deprivation revisited," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 129-147.
    6. Dujardin, Claire & Goffette-Nagot, Florence, 2010. "Neighborhood effects on unemployment?: A test à la Altonji," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 380-396, November.
    7. repec:zbw:rwirep:0536 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Robert Bifulco & Jason M. Fletcher & Stephen L. Ross, 2011. "The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Post-secondary Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 25-53, February.
    9. repec:zbw:rwirep:0535 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Yannis M. Ioannides, 2010. "Neighborhood Effects and Housing," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0747, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    11. Thomas K. Bauer & Michael Fertig & Matthias Vorell, 2011. "Neighborhood Effects and Individual Unemployment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 409, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    12. Shihe Fu & Stephen L. Ross, 2007. "Wage Premia in Employment Clusters: Does Worker Sorting Bias Estimates?," Working papers 2007-26, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2009.
    13. Ross, Stephen L. & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "Are shirking and leisure substitutable? An empirical test of efficiency wages based on urban economic theory," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 498-517, September.
    14. Bleakley, Hoyt & Lin, Jeffrey, 2012. "Thick-market effects and churning in the labor market: Evidence from US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 87-103.
    15. Yannis M. Ioannides & Giorgio Topa, 2010. "Neighborhood Effects: Accomplishments And Looking Beyond Them," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 343-362.
    16. Bechara, Peggy & Eilers, Lea & Paloyo, Alfredo R., 2015. "In Good Company – Neighborhood Quality and Female Employment," Ruhr Economic Papers 535, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    17. Dang, Rui, 2015. "Spillover effects of local human capital stock on adult obesity: Evidence from German neighborhoods," Ruhr Economic Papers 585, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    18. Peggy Bechara & Lea Eilers & Alfredo R. Paloyo, 2014. "In Good Company – Neighborhood Quality and Female Employment," Ruhr Economic Papers 0535, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    19. Shihe Fu & Stephen L. Ross, 2013. "Wage Premia in Employment Clusters: How Important Is Worker Heterogeneity?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 271-304.
    20. Dante Contreras & Daniela Zapata & Diana Kruger & Marcelo Ochoa, 2007. "El papel de las redes sociales en las oportunidades económicas de las mujeres de Bolivia," Research Department Publications 3241, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    21. Bruce A. Weinberg, 2007. "Social Interactions with Endogenous Associations," NBER Working Papers 13038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns

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