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Sometimes Close is Good Enough: The Value of Nearby Environmental Amenities

An extensive empirical literature exists showing that variations in region-specific amenities can account for persistent differences in real wages across regions. However, this literature has considered only amenities in the same location as the household. This paper argues that environmental amenities at some distance from but accessible to urban areas may lead to negative compensating wage differentials. We use a general equilibrium framework and data from the 1995 Current Population Survey to calculate implicit amenity prices based on measures of distance to environmental amenities. Our results suggest that amenities outside the metropolitan area do generate compensating wage differentials, as workers are willing to accept lower wages to live in accessible proximity to “nice” places. This implies that these places provide a positive externality to those communities that find them accessible. The estimated effects are quantitatively important, suggesting that these externalities should be taken into account in policy making.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2003-07.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Journal of Regional Science 46(5): 931-951.
Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2003-07
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  1. Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 1991. "The Structure of Local Public Finance and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 774-806, August.
  2. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser, 1996. "Should Transfer Payments Be Indexed to Local Price Levels?," NBER Working Papers 5598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. " The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
  5. Blomquist, Glenn C & Berger, Mark C & Hoehn, John P, 1988. "New Estimates of Quality of Life in Urban Areas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 89-107, March.
  6. Courant Paul N. & Deardorff Alan V., 1993. "Amenities, Nontraded Goods, and the Trade of Lumpy Countries," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 299-317, September.
  7. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
  8. Gyourko, Joseph & Kahn, Matthew & Tracy, Joseph, 1999. "Quality of life and environmental comparisons," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: P. C. Cheshire & E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 37, pages 1413-1454 Elsevier.
  9. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  10. McGranahan, David A., 1999. "Natural Amenities Drive Rural Population Change," Agricultural Economics Reports 33955, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  11. Greenwood, Michael J, et al, 1991. "Migration, Regional Equilibrium, and the Estimation of Compensating Differentials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1382-90, December.
  12. Donna K. Ginther & Madeline Zavodny, 2001. "Is the male marriage premium due to selection? The effect of shotgun weddings on the return to marriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 313-328.
  13. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  14. Beeson, Patricia E., 1991. "Amenities and regional differences in returns to worker characteristics," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 224-241, September.
  15. Smith, V Kerry & Huang, Ju-Chin, 1995. "Can Markets Value Air Quality? A Meta-analysis of Hedonic Property Value Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 209-27, February.
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