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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Urban Revival in America, 2000 to 2010

Victor Couture, Jessie Handbury

NBER Working Paper No. 24084
Issued in November 2017, Revised in June 2019
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment

This paper documents and explains the striking rise in the proclivity of college-educated individuals to reside near city centers since 2000. We show that this recent urban revival is driven almost entirely by younger college graduates in larger cities. With a residential choice model, we quantify the role of jobs, amenities, and house prices in explaining this trend. We find that the rising taste of young college graduates for non-tradable service amenities like restaurants and nightlife accounts for more than 40 percent of their movement toward city centers. Complementary data shows a corresponding rise in young college graduate expenditures on and trips to non-tradable services. We then link changes in both consumption and urbanization to secular trends of top income growth and delayed family formation amongst young college graduates.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24084

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