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Demography and Population Loss from Central Cities, 1950-2000

  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Allison Shertzer

The share of metropolitan residents living in central cities declined dramatically from 1950 to 2000. We argue that cities would have lost even further ground if not for demographic trends such as renewed immigration, delayed child bearing, and a decline in the share of households headed by veterans. We provide causal estimates of the effect of children on residential location using the birth of twins. The effect of veteran status is identified from a discontinuity in the probability of military service during and after the mass mobilization for World War II. Our results suggest that these changes in demographic composition were strong enough to bolster city population but not to fully counteract socio-economic factors favoring suburban growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16435.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “Population Trends as a Counterweight to Central City Decline,” with Allison Shertzer. Demography 50.1 (2013): 125–47.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16435
Note: DAE
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  1. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-56, December.
  2. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
  3. Jordan Rappaport, 2003. "U.S. urban decline and growth, 1950 to 2000," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 15-44.
  4. Julie Berry Cullen & Steven D. Levitt, 1999. "Crime, Urban Flight, And The Consequences For Cities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 159-169, May.
  5. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2002. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 784-815, October.
  6. Paul J. Devereux & Sandra E. Black & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education," Open Access publications 10197/310, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  7. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805, 05.
  8. Joseph Gyourko & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2013. "Superstar Cities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 167-99, November.
  9. Leah Platt Boustan, 2010. "Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 417-443, February.
  10. Leah Platt Boustan, 2007. "Escape from the City? The Role of Race, Income, and Local Public Goods in Post-War Suburbanization," NBER Working Papers 13311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do the Poor Live in Cities?," NBER Working Papers 7636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2004. "Liquidity Constraints and Housing Prices: Theory and Evidence from the VA Mortgage," NBER Working Papers 10611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Painter, Gary & Lee, KwanOk, 2009. "Housing tenure transitions of older households: Life cycle, demographic, and familial factors," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 749-760, November.
  14. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. & Scafidi, Benjamin, 2002. "Black Self-Segregation as a Cause of Housing Segregation: Evidence from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 366-390, March.
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  1. Historical Economic Geography

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