Driving to Opportunity: Local Rents, Wages, Commuting Costs and Sub-Metropolitan Quality of Life
In an equilibrium model of residential and workplace choice, we estimate local willingness-to-pay measures for 2071 areas covering the United States. These measures are based on how high residential housing and commuting costs are relative to workplace wages; they index quality of life when preferences are sufficiently homogeneous. Wage levels vary little within metropolitan areas relative to across them, while individual characteristics that predict wages vary more within, suggesting patterns about sorting. Quality of life varies as much within metros as across them, and is typically high in areas that are dense, suburban, mild, safe, entertaining, and have higher school-funding.
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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w19922
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19922
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