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What Are Cities Worth? Land Rents, Local Productivity, and the Capitalization of Amenity Values

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  • David Albouy

Abstract

This article examines and quantifies the relationship between local amenities and prices in an equilibrium model, demonstrating the role of non-traded goods and federal taxes. I derive formulae using factor shares to infer local land rents, productivity, and the total value of amenities from wage and housing-cost data, applying them to U.S. metropolitan areas. The formulae address how “wage multipliers,” heterogeneity in non-traded firm productivity, and tax-driven amenity value expropriation affect price capitalization. Wage and housing-cost variations across metros are driven more by productivity than quality-of-life differences. The most productive and valuable cities are typically coastal, sunny, mild, educated and large.

Suggested Citation

  • David Albouy, 2009. "What Are Cities Worth? Land Rents, Local Productivity, and the Capitalization of Amenity Values," NBER Working Papers 14981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14981 Note: EEE PE
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    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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