NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Is Urban Decay Bad? Is Urban Revitalization Bad Too?

Jacob L. Vigdor

NBER Working Paper No. 12955
Issued in March 2007
NBER Program(s):   ED   PE

Many observers argue that urban revitalization harms the poor, primarily by raising rents. Others argue that urban decline harms the poor by reducing job opportunities, the quality of local public services, and other neighborhood amenities. While both decay and revitalization can have negative effects if moving costs are sufficiently high, in general the impact of neighborhood change on utility depends on the strength of price responses to neighborhood quality changes. Data from the American Housing Survey are used to estimate a discrete choice model identifying households' willingness-to-pay for neighborhood quality. These willingness-to-pay estimates are then compared to the actual price changes that accompany observed changes in neighborhood quality. The results suggest that price increases associated with revitalization are smaller than most households' willingness to pay for neighborhood improvements. The results imply that, in general, neighborhood revitalization is more favorable than neighborhood decline.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12955

Published: Vigdor, Jacob. "Is Urban Decay Bad? Is Urban Revitalization Bad Too?" Journal of Urban Economics 68, 3 (November 2010): 277-289. citation courtesy of

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