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Demography and Population Loss from Central Cities, 1950-2000

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  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Allison Shertzer

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Leah Platt Boustan & Allison Shertzer, 2010. "Demography and Population Loss from Central Cities, 1950-2000," NBER Working Papers 16435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16435
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
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    3. Leah Platt Boustan, 2010. "Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 417-443.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do The Poor Live In Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1891, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. 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.
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    7. 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.
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    12. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kyle Fee & Daniel Hartley, 2012. "The relationship between city center density and urban growth or decline," Working Paper 1213, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Daniel K. Fetter, 2013. "How Do Mortgage Subsidies Affect Home Ownership? Evidence from the Mid-century GI Bills," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 111-147, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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    1. Historical Economic Geography

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