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Urban Population and Amenities: The Neoclassical Model of Location

Listed author(s):
  • David Albouy
  • Bryan Stuart

We analyze a neoclassical general-equilibrium model to explain cross-metro variation in population, density, and land supply based on three amenity types: quality-of-life, productivity in tradables, and productivity in non-tradables. We develop a new method to estimate elasticities of housing and land supply, and local-productivity estimates, from cross-sectional density and land-area data. From wage and housing-cost indices, the model explains half of U.S. density and total population variation, and finds that quality of life determines locations more than employment opportunities. We show how changing quality of life, relaxing land-use regulations, or neutralizing federal taxes can redistribute populations massively.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19919.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19919.

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Date of creation: Feb 2014
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19919
Note: EEE LS PE
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  1. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2015. "The Economics of Density: Evidence From the Berlin Wall," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 2127-2189, November.
  2. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Smart Cities: Quality of Life, Productivity, and the Growth Effects of Human Capital," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 324-335, May.
  3. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296.
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  6. Rebecca Diamond, 2016. "The Determinants and Welfare Implications of US Workers' Diverging Location Choices by Skill: 1980-2000," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 479-524, March.
  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
  8. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
  9. David Albouy & Gabriel Ehrlich, 2012. "Housing Productivity and the Social Cost of Land-Use Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 18110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2012. "The Costs of Agglomeration: Land Prices in French Cities," IZA Discussion Papers 7027, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2005. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 376-424, April.
  12. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon, 2012. "The Cost of Agglomeration: Land Prices in Cities," Sciences Po publications 9240, Sciences Po.
  13. 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.
  14. Thorsnes, Paul, 1997. "Consistent Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution between Land and Non-Land Inputs in the Production of Housing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 98-108, July.
  15. Saks, Raven E., 2008. "Job creation and housing construction: Constraints on metropolitan area employment growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 178-195, July.
  16. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
  17. Sanghoon Lee & Qiang Li, 2010. "Uneven landscapes and the city size distribution," Working Papers 2010/41, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  18. Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Strange, William C., 2004. "Evidence on the nature and sources of agglomeration economies," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics,in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 49, pages 2119-2171 Elsevier.
  19. Matias Busso & Jesse Gregory & Patrick Kline, 2013. "Assessing the Incidence and Efficiency of a Prominent Place Based Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 897-947, April.
  20. McDonald, John F., 1981. "Capital-land substitution in urban housing: A survey of empirical estimates," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 190-211, March.
  21. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2006. "Urban growth and housing supply," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 71-89, January.
  22. 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.
  23. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  24. Bartel, Ann P, 1989. "Where Do the New U.S. Immigrants Live?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 371-391, October.
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