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Urban Population and Amenities: The Neoclassical Model of Location

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  • David Albouy
  • Bryan Stuart

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David Albouy & Bryan Stuart, 2014. "Urban Population and Amenities: The Neoclassical Model of Location," NBER Working Papers 19919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19919
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    Cited by:

    1. David Albouy & Walter Graf & Ryan Kellogg & Hendrik Wolff, 2016. "Climate Amenities, Climate Change, and American Quality of Life," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 205-246.
    2. Lenzi, Camilla, 2016. "Co-invention networks and inventive productivity in US citiesAuthor-Name: Breschi, Stefano," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 66-75.
    3. Diego Zambiasi & Steven Stillman, 2020. "The Pot Rush: Is Legalized Marijuana A Positive Local Amenity?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 58(2), pages 667-679, April.
    4. Norbert Hiller & Oliver Lerbs, 2015. "The capitalization of non-market attributes into regional housing rents and wages: evidence on German functional labor market areas," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 35(1), pages 49-72, February.
    5. Gabriel M. Ahfeldt & Elisabetta Pietrostefani, 2017. "The Compact City in Empirical Research: A Quantitative Literature Review," SERC Discussion Papers 0215, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    6. Herkenhoff, Kyle F. & Ohanian, Lee E. & Prescott, Edward C., 2018. "Tarnishing the golden and empire states: Land-use restrictions and the U.S. economic slowdown," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 89-109.
    7. Ahfeldt, Gabriel M. & Pietrostefani, Elisabetta, 2017. "The compact city in empirical research: A quantitative literature review," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 83638, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Bryan Stuart, 2017. "The Long-Run Effects of Recessions on Education and Income," Working Papers 2017-25, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    9. Florida, Richard & Mellander, Charlotta, 2017. "Innovation, Skill, and Economic Segregation," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 456, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    10. Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn E. Stokke, 2017. "National income taxation and the geographic distribution of population," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(5), pages 879-902, September.
    11. Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn E Stokke, 2015. "Handling amenities in income taxation: Analysis of tax distortions in a migration equilibrium model," Working Paper Series 16315, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
    12. Robert Buckley & Ashna Mathema, 2018. "Housing privatization in Romania : An Anti†commons tragedy?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 26(1), pages 127-145, January.
    13. Costa, Francisco J M & Nunes, Letícia & Sanches, Fábio Miessi, 2019. "How to Attract Physicians to Underserved Areas? Policy Recommendations from a Structural Model," SocArXiv hfa8s, Center for Open Science.
    14. Mark Colas & John M. Morehouse, 2019. "The Environmental Cost of Land Use Restrictions," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 20, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    15. Kevin Berry & Alexander James & Brock Smith & Brett Watson, 2019. "Geography, Geology, and Regional Economic Development," Working Papers 2019-03, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
    16. David Albouy & Gabriel Ehrlich & Yingyi Liu, 2016. "Housing Demand, Cost-of-Living Inequality, and the Affordability Crisis," NBER Working Papers 22816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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