Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning
Zoning has been cited as a discriminatory policy tool by critics, who argue that ordinances are used to deter the entry of minority residents into majority neighborhoods through density restrictions (exclusionary zoning) and locate manufacturing activity in minority neighborhoods (environmental racism). However, identifying discrimination in these regulations is complicated by the fact that land use and zoning have been co-evolving for nearly a century in most American cities, rendering residential sorting and inequitable treatment observationally equivalent. We employ a novel approach to overcome this challenge, studying the introduction of comprehensive zoning in Chicago. Using fine-scale spatial data on pre-existing land uses and the locations of minority neighborhoods, we find evidence of a pre-cursor to exclusionary zoning that was applied to black neighborhoods. We also find strong evidence of inequitable treatment of both southern black and immigrant neighborhoods with both appearing to have been targeted for increased levels of industrial use zoning.
Antonio Diaz-Guy, Phil Wetzel, Jeremy Brown, Andrew O'Rourke provided outstanding research assistance. We gratefully acknowledge the Central Research Development Fund and the Center on Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh for supporting this work. We thank seminar participants at Yale, the Economics and Policy workshop at Booth, and the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. We are grateful to Gabriel Ahlfeldt and Daniel McMillen for providing the land price data. We also thank David Ash and the California Center for Population Research for providing support for the microdata collection, Carlos Villareal and the Early Indicators Project (uadata.org) for the Chicago street file, and Martin Brennan and Jean-Francois Richard for their support of the project. Corresponding author's email: firstname.lastname@example.org (A. Shertzer). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Allison Shertzer & Tate Twinam & Randall P. Walsh, 2016. "Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 217-46, July. citation courtesy of
Allison Shertzer & Tate Twinam & Randall P. Walsh, 2016. "Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol 8(3), pages 217-246.