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Rethinking Detroit

Listed author(s):
  • Raymond Owens III
  • Esteban Rossi-Hansberg
  • Pierre-Daniel Sarte

We study the urban structure of the City of Detroit. Following several decades of decline, the city's current urban structure is clearly not optimal for its size, with a business district immediately surrounded by a ring of largely vacant neighborhoods. We propose a model with residential externalities that features multiple equilibria at the neighborhood level. In particular, developing a residential area requires the coordination of developers and residents, without which it may remain vacant even if its fundamentals are sound. We embed this mechanism in a quantitative spatial economics model and use it to rationalize current city allocations. We then use the model to examine existing strategic visions to revitalize Detroit. We also explore alternative plans that rely on development guarantees, and find that they could result in greater population growth and land price appreciation than existing plans. The widespread effects of these policies underscore the importance of using a general equilibrium framework to evaluate policy proposals.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23146.

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Date of creation: Feb 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23146
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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. Keith Head & John Ries, 2001. "Increasing Returns versus National Product Differentiation as an Explanation for the Pattern of U.S.-Canada Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 858-876, September.
  3. 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.
  4. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
  5. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Daniel P. McMillen, 2015. "The Vertical City: The Price of Land and the Height of Buildings in Chicago 1870-2010," SERC Discussion Papers 0180, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  6. Morris A. Davis & Francois Ortalo-Magne, 2011. "Household Expenditures, Wages, Rents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 248-261, April.
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