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Why Do the Poor Live in Cities?

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Matthew E. Kahn
  • Jordan Rappaport

More than 17 percent of households in American central cities live in poverty; in American suburbs, just 7.4 percent of households live in poverty. The income elasticity of demand for land is too low for urban poverty to be the result of wealthy individuals' wanting to live where land is cheap (the traditional urban economics explanation of urban poverty). Instead, the urbanization of poverty appears to be the result of better access to public transportation in central cities, and central city governments favoring the poor (relative to suburban governments).

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7636.

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Date of creation: Apr 2000
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Publication status: published as Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E. & Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Why do the poor live in cities The role of public transportation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-24, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7636
Note: LS PE
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why is There More Crime in Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1746, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Small, K.A. & Gomez-Ibanez, J.A., 1996. "Urban Transportation," Papers 95-96-4, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  3. Giuliano, Genevieve & Small, Kenneth A., 1991. "Subcenters in the Los Angeles Region," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6ts0t95w, University of California Transportation Center.
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  5. Richard Arnott & James G. MacKinnon, 1976. "Market and Shadow Land Rents with Congestion," Working Papers 250, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
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  7. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. 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.
  9. Blank, Rebecca M., 1988. "The effect of welfare and wage levels on the location decisions of female-headed households," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 186-211, September.
  10. Gin, Alan & Sonstelie, Jon, 1992. "The streetcar and residential location in nineteenth century Philadelphia," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 92-107, July.
  11. Baum-Snow, Nathaniel & Kahn, Matthew E., 2000. "The effects of new public projects to expand urban rail transit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 241-263, August.
  12. Edwin S. Mills & Luan Sende Lubuele, 1997. "Inner Cities," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 727-756, June.
  13. Wheaton, William C, 1977. "Income and Urban Residence: An Analysis of Consumer Demand for Location," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 620-31, September.
  14. Joseph Gyourko & Richard Voith, 1997. "Does the U.S. tax treatment of housing promote suburbanization and central city decline?," Working Papers 97-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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