Research Interests

My research focuses on the socio-economics of neighbourhood change with an emphasis on the spatial organization of labour markets. My current research agenda involves focusing on the externalities generated by changing aspects of the labor market and the built environment. Further work will involve considering the welfare implications of gentrification and segregation as it relates to neighborhood sorting and displacement.

Working Papers

Labour Demand, Housing Markets, and Neighbourhood Change

Job Market Paper

Abstract: This paper explores the within-city dynamics of neighbourhood change in New York City. Since 1974 there has been a spatial inversion of neighbourhoods in New York City, with central neighbourhoods getting both wealthier and more expensive and peripheral neighbourhoods getting both poorer and less expensive. To explain these facts I begin by characterizing the temporal patterns of change using a structural breakpoint analysis. I provide novel estimates of which neighbourhoods have changed, when they changed, and how quickly they changed. I find that neighbourhoods declining in prices are more spatially correlated than neighbourhoods rising in prices, but that house prices rise faster than they fall. Following this, I construct a spatial-Bartik instrument - which acts as an exogenous measure of neighbourhood labour demand - to generate shocks to neighbourhood income growth. Local labour market demand shocks account for as much as 41% of the overall variation in house price growth rates and as much as 61% of the annual variation. A one standard deviation increase in predicted housing demand decreases the probability that a neighbourhood declines in relative house prices and homeowner incomes by 44% and conditional on not declining, increases the probability of a positive structural breakpoint in any given year by 35%. Counterfactual analysis suggests that had New York City labour demand grown at the national rate, overall house price growth would be 18% higher, the spatial variation would be 38% higher, and 40% more neighbourhoods would exhibit gentrification. As such, this paper establishes the importance of labour market changes on the trajectory of house price growth and neighbourhood change.

The Built Environment and Social Interactions: evidence from panel data

(Version: September, 2016)

Abstract: It has been argued by Jane Jacobs (1961) and others that the built environment has a causal effect on social engagement. Using a rich panel data set this paper explores the relationship between the built environment - measured as neighborhood walkability, county density, and average neighborhood sociability - and social interactions. Results show a strong and positive cross-sectional relationship that is consistent with the work of Jacobs and with previous literature. However, the location decisions of individuals are not random and may be impacted by unobservable propensities to engage socially and to live in socially conducive (i.e. walkable/high-density) neighborhoods. This endogenous relationship is addressed by employing a first-difference specification that exploits the panel nature of the data set. The cross-sectional relationship with social interactions disappears for both neighborhood walkability and density, while the relationship between own sociability and average neighborhood sociability persists. This suggests that socially inclined people are sorting into more walkable, high-density, neighborhoods, with this sorting generating the cross-sectional relationship between the built environment and social interactions.

Work in Progress

[1] Discontinuous characteristics of neighbourhood change, 2016

[2] Capacity Constraints, Household Preferences, and the Valuation of School Quality (joint with Michael Gilraine), 2016

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