nep-ure New Economics Papers
on Urban and Real Estate Economics
Issue of 2008‒01‒26
nineteen papers chosen by
Steve Ross
University of Connecticut

  1. Housing Wealth and Retirement Timing By Martin Farnham; Purvi Sevak
  2. Factory-Built Construction and the American Homebuyer: Perceptions and Opportunities By HUD - PD&R
  3. Technology’s edge: the educational benefits of computer-aided instruction By Lisa Barrow; Lisa Markham; Cecilia Elena Rouse
  4. What Drives Housing Prices Down? : Evidence from an International Panel By Konstantin A. Kholodilin; Jan-Oliver Menz; Boriss Siliverstovs
  5. Impact of voucher design on public school performance: evidence from Florida and Milwaukee voucher programs By Rajashri Chakrabarti
  6. Measuring Overcrowding in Housing By HUD - PD&R
  7. First-time home buyers and residential investment volatility By Jonas D. M. Fisher; Martin Gervais
  8. Is it possible to construct derivatives for the Paris residential market? By Baroni, Michel; Barthélémy, Fabrice; Mokrane, Mahdi
  9. Factors and Mechanisms Causing the Emergence of Local Industrial Clusters - A Meta-Study of 159 Cases. By T. Brenner; A. Mühlig
  10. School Accountability, Autonomy, Choice, and the Equity of Student Achievement: International Evidence from PISA 2003 By Gabriela Schütz; Martin R. West; Ludger Wöbmann
  11. Research to Develop a Community Needs Index By HUD - PD&R
  12. Cities and Growth: The Left Brain of North American Cities: Scientists and Engineers and Urban Growth By Beckstead, Desmond; Brown, W. Mark; Gellatly, Guy
  14. Performance competition in local media markets By Revelli Federico
  15. Convergence in the United States: a tale of migration and urbanization By Riccardo DiCecio; Charles S. Gascon
  16. The Effect of Hours of Work on Social Interaction By Henry Saffer; Karine Lamiraud
  17. Power distribution and endogenous segregation By Catherine Bros
  18. Social Network Capital, Economic Mobility and Poverty Traps By Chantarat, Sommarat; Barrett , Christopher
  19. Creative industries By Jeroen de Jong; Pieter Fris; Erik Stam

  1. By: Martin Farnham (University of Victoria); Purvi Sevak (Hunter College)
    Abstract: We use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Office of Housing Enterprise Oversight to measure the effect of changes in housing wealth on retirement timing. Using cross-MSA variation in house-price movements to identify wealth effects on retirement timing, we find evidence that such wealth effects are present. According to some specifications the rate of transition into retirement increases in the presence of positive housing wealth shocks. In addition, we use data on expected age of retirement to measure the impact of housing wealth shocks on expectations about retirement timing. Using renters as a control for heterogeneity in local amenities and using individual fixed effects to control for unobserved individual heterogeneity, we find that a 10% increase in housing wealth is associated with a reduction in expected retirement age of between 3.5 and 5 months.
    Date: 2007–10
  2. By: HUD - PD&R
    Abstract: Factory-built housing, which includes modular, panelized, and manufactured homes, increasingly allows homebuilders to provide consumers with homes that are less expensive than site-built housing without sacrificing a home’s quality or aesthetic appeal. Yet, such homes represent only 21 percent of housing starts in the United States. This study assesses the consumer’s knowledge and perception of site-built and factory-built housing. This information is useful for identifying what barriers there are to more widespread adoption of these more affordable construction techniques and what education and marketing strategies could be used to overcome any identified barriers.
    JEL: O00
    Date: 2007–06
  3. By: Lisa Barrow; Lisa Markham; Cecilia Elena Rouse
    Abstract: Because a significant portion of U.S. students lacks critical mathematic skills, schools across the country are investing heavily in computerized curriculums as a way to enhance education output, even though there is surprisingly little evidence that they actually improve student achievement. In this paper we present results from a randomized study in three urban school districts of a well- defined use of computers in schools: a popular instructional computer program which is designed to teach pre-algebra and algebra. We assess the impact of the program using statewide tests that cover a range of math skills and tests designed specifically to target pre- algebra and algebra skills. We find that students randomly assigned to computer-aided instruction score at least 0.17 of a standard deviation higher on a pre- algebra/algebra test than students randomly assigned to traditional instruction. We hypothesize that the effectiveness arises from increased individualized instruction as the effects appear larger for students in larger classes and those in classes in which students are frequently absent.
    Date: 2007
  4. By: Konstantin A. Kholodilin; Jan-Oliver Menz; Boriss Siliverstovs
    Abstract: In this study, we suggest an explanation for the alarmingly low growth rates of real housing prices in Canada and Germany in comparison to other OECD countries over 1975-2005. We show that the long-run development of housing markets is determined by real disposable per capita income, real long-term interest rate, population growth, and urbanization. The differential development of real housing prices in Canada and Germany is attributed to the specific values of the fundamentals in these two countries. Canada and Germany are characterized by relatively low average growth rates of real disposable income and relatively high interest rates resulting in suppressed housing prices over long period of time. Institutional structure accentuates these tendencies. Given the importance of housing wealth for the private consumption, our paper aims at drawing attention of the policymakers to the necessity of preventing not only the overheating but also overcooling of the housing market that entails lower economic growth rate.
    Keywords: House prices; dynamic panel data; cointegration
    JEL: E30 C23 C51
    Date: 2007
  5. By: Rajashri Chakrabarti
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of vouchers in general and voucher design in particular on public school performance. It argues that all voucher programs are not created equal. There are often fundamental differences in voucher designs that affect public school incentives differently and induce different responses from them. It analyzes two voucher programs in the United States. The 1990 Milwaukee experiment can be looked upon as a "voucher shock" program that suddenly made low-income students eligible for vouchers. The 1999 Florida program can be looked upon as a "threat of voucher" program, in which schools getting an "F" grade for the first time are exposed to the threat of vouchers, but do not face vouchers unless and until they get a second "F" within the next three years. In the context of a formal theoretical model, the study argues that the threatened public schools will unambiguously improve under the Florida-type program, and this improvement will exceed that under the Milwaukee-type program. Using school-level scores from Florida and Wisconsin and a difference-in-differences estimation strategy in trends, it then shows that these predictions are validated empirically. These findings are reasonably robust in that they survive sensitivity checks including correcting for mean reversion and a regression discontinuity analysis.
    Keywords: Educational vouchers ; Education - Economic aspects ; Public schools
    Date: 2008
  6. By: HUD - PD&R
    Abstract: Researchers use a variety of measures to quantify the degree of overcrowding in housing. This study explores traditional and alternative measures of overcrowding and examines how overcrowding affects different segments of the population. The overcrowding measures of Persons-Per-Room, Persons-Per-Bedroom, Unit Square Footage-Per-Person, and Persons-Per-Room by Unit Square Footage-Per-Person were analyzed and contrasted with the use of American Housing Survey national data from 1985 and 2005.
    JEL: D83
    Date: 2007–09
  7. By: Jonas D. M. Fisher; Martin Gervais
    Abstract: Like other macroeconomic variables, residential investment has become much less volatile since the mid-1980s (recent experience notwithstanding.) This paper explores the role of structural change in this decline. Since the the early 1980s there have been many changes in the underlying structure of the economy, including those in the mortgage market which have made it easier to acquire a home. We examine how these changes affect residential investment volatility in a life-cycle model consistent with micro evidence on housing choices. We find that a decline in the rate of household formation, increased delay in marriage, and an increase in the cross-sectional variance of earnings drive the decline in volatility. Our findings provide support for the view that the “Great Moderation” in aggregate fluctuations is not just due to smaller aggregate shocks, but is driven at least in part by structural change.
    Date: 2007
  8. By: Baroni, Michel (ESSEC Business School); Barthélémy, Fabrice (Thema, Université de Cergy-Pontoise); Mokrane, Mahdi (AEW Europe)
    Abstract: In this paper we address the issue of the robustness of the price level, mean, and variance estimates for two sets of repeat sales real estate price indices: the classical WRS method and a PCA factorial method, as elaborated in Baroni, Barthélémy and Mokrane (2007). We use an extensive repeat sales database for the Paris (France) residential market to compute the parameters of the indices produced over the period 1982-2005. The aim here is to test the sensitivity of these two indices to revision due to additional repeat-sales transactions information. Our main conclusion is that the revision problem may cause serious concern for the stability of key parameters that are used as inputs in the pricing of derivatives contracts. The impact of index revision is important on the estimate of the index price level. We also find that although the revision impact on the trend estimate can be important: the WRS method seems more robust and derivatives contracts such as swaps may be based on such indices. Finally, the revision influence on volatility estimates seems to be less stringent, and according to the robustness of the volatility estimate, the BBM factorial index seems to fare relatively better than the WRS index. Hence, we find that the factorial index could better sustain volatility based derivatives such as call or put options.
    Keywords: Real estate indices; Index revision; Real estate derivatives products
    JEL: C01
    Date: 2007–12
  9. By: T. Brenner; A. Mühlig
    Abstract: Local industrial clusters have attracted much attention in the recent economic and geographical literature. A huge number of case studies have been conducted. This paper presents a meta-analysis of the case studies of 159 local industrial clusters in various countries and industries. Based on an overview of the various theories and arguments about the emergence of such clusters in the literature, it analyses the involvement of 35 different local conditions and processes, providing a summary on the knowledge that is gathered in these case studies with a comparison between continents, new and old clusters, and high- and low-tech industries.
    Keywords: local industrial clusters, case studies, meta-study, local conditions Length 44 pages
    JEL: L60 O18 R12
    Date: 2007–12
  10. By: Gabriela Schütz; Martin R. West; Ludger Wöbmann
    Abstract: School systems aspire to provide equal opportunity for all, irrespective of socio-economic status (SES). Much of the criticism of recent school reforms that introduce accountability, autonomy, and choice emphasizes their potentially negative consequences for equity. This report provides new evidence on how national features of accountability, autonomy, and choice are related to the equality of opportunity across countries. We estimate whether student achievement depends more or less on SES in school systems employing these institutional features. The rigorous micro-econometric analyses are based on the PISA 2003 data for more than 180,000 students from 27 OECD countries. The main empirical result is that rather than harming disadvantaged students, accountability, autonomy, and choice appear to be tides that lift all boats. The additional choice created by public funding for private schools in particular is associated with a strong reduction in the dependence of student achievement on SES. External exit exams have a strong positive effect for all students that is slightly smaller for low-SES students. The positive effect of regularly using subjective teacher ratings to assess students is substantially larger for low-SES students. The effect of many other accountability devices does not differ significantly by student SES. School autonomy in determining course content is associated with higher equality of opportunity, while equality of opportunity is lower in countries where more schools have autonomy in hiring teachers. Autonomy in formulating the budget and in establishing starting salaries is not associated with the equity of student outcomes. Inequality of opportunity is substantially higher in school systems that track students at early ages. <BR>Les systèmes scolaires souhaitent offrir des chances égales pour tous les élèves, quel que soit leur milieu socio-économique d'origine. La plupart des critiques soulevées par les réformes récentes instaurant la responsabilité, l'autonomie et le choix mettent en avant leurs conséquences potentiellement négatives en termes d'équité. Ce rapport apporte de nouveaux éléments sur les liens existant entre les caractéristiques nationales en matière de responsabilité, d'autonomie et de choix et l'égalité des chances selon les pays. Des estimations sont faites afin de déterminer si les résultats des élèves dépendent plus ou moins de leur milieu socio-économique d'origine dans les systèmes scolaires qui reposent sur ces caractéristiques. Les analyses micro-économétriques rigoureuses s'appuient sur les données de l'enquête PISA 2003 pour plus de 180 000 étudiants de 27 pays Membres de l'OCDE. Le principal résultat empirique est que, plutôt que de nuire aux élèves de milieux défavorisés, la responsabilité, l'autonomie et le choix semblent bénéficier à l'ensemble des élèves. En particulier, le choix supplémentaire généré par les fonds publics accordés aux établissements scolaires privés est associé à une forte diminution de la corrélation entre les résultats des élèves et leur milieu socio-économique d'origine. Les examens de sortie externes ont un effet positif important pour tous les élèves, bien qu'il soit légèrement moindre pour les élèves de milieux modestes. Les retombées bénéfiques du recours régulier à des classements subjectifs d'enseignants pour évaluer les élèves sont nettement plus importantes pour les élèves de milieux modestes. Les effets de nombreux autres outils de responsabilisation ne diffèrent pas notablement selon le milieu d'origine des élèves. L'autonomie laissée aux établissements scolaires pour déterminer le contenu des programmes scolaires est associée à une plus grande égalité des chances, alors que celle-ci est moindre lorsque les établissements scolaires sont plus nombreux à pouvoir recruter librement leurs enseignants. L'autonomie accordée aux établissements pour établir le budget et les salaires de départ n'est pas liée à l'équité des résultats des élèves. L'inégalité des chances est nettement plus forte dans les systèmes scolaires qui favorisent l'orientation précoce des élèves.
    Date: 2007–12–21
  11. By: HUD - PD&R
    Abstract: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded this research for the purpose of developing an index of community needs. Such an index would take information from various public databases on different types of community problems and produce an overall assessment of a community’s needs. As far back as 1976, HUD devoted its own staff resources to studying community needs and devising ways to synthesize various types of needs into an overall index of needs. HUD’s efforts have been sporadic because the primary source of data on community needs has been the decennial censuses, and thus new information on needs has been available only at 10-year intervals. Now, the American Community Survey (ACS) will provide every year the information that previously was available only from the decennial censuses. The annual availability of information through the ACS makes a community needs index much more valuable for HUD.
    JEL: D83
    Date: 2007–06
  12. By: Beckstead, Desmond; Brown, W. Mark; Gellatly, Guy
    Abstract: This paper examines the growth of human capital in Canadian and U.S. cities. Using pooled Census of Population data for 242 urban centres, we evaluate the link between long run employment growth and the supply of different types of skilled labour. The paper also examines whether the scientific capabilities of cities are influenced by amenities such as the size of the local cultural sector. The first part of the paper investigates the contribution of broad and specialized forms of human capital to long-run employment growth. We differentiate between employed degree holders (a general measure of human capital) and degree holders employed in science and cultural occupations (specific measures of human capital). Our growth models investigate long-run changes in urban employment from 1980 to 2000, and control for other factors that have been posited to influence the growth of cities. These include estimates of the amenities that proxy differences in the attractiveness of urban areas. The second part of the paper focuses specifically on a particular type of human capital'degree holders in science and engineering occupations. Our models evaluate the factors associated with the medium- and long-run growth of these occupations. Particular attention is placed on disentangling the relationships between science and engineering growth and other forms of human capital.
    Keywords: Science and technology, Business performance and ownership, Human resources in science and technology, Regional and urban profiles, Innovation
    Date: 2008–01–08
  13. By: Eda UNAL; Susan E. CHEN; Brigitte S. WALDORF (Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Purdue University)
    Abstract: Healthy populations and access to health care services are significant factors influencing economic development and prosperity. Since geographic access is an essential feature of an overall health system, it is important for health service researchers to develop accurate measures of physical access to health. In this paper we develop a series of gravity-based health care accessibility measures for all the counties in Indiana. The measures go beyond local availability of health care services within a county and account for travel impedance via distance-discounted health care services accessible throughout the state. When applied to Indiana counties, the results show sharp disparities in health care accessibility with extensive pockets of poor accessibility in rural and peripheral areas. The research concludes with a demonstration of how spatial accessibility measures can be beneficially used to evaluate of policies indicative of changes in the provision of health services.
    Keywords: spatial accessibility, health care, geographic information systems (GIS),
    JEL: I12
    Date: 2007
  14. By: Revelli Federico (University of Turin)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of tax and public service performance on English local government popularity by using data on local property taxes, service performance ratings and local election results after the introduction of a system of evaluation of local government performance (Comprehensive Performance Assessment). The evidence emerging from estimation of a reelection equation offers a somewhat more rounded portrait of the voter than the conventional fiscal conservative icon, by highlighting the beneficial consequences of public service performance on government popularity and pointing to the role of local media networks (the BBC regional television, local radio and web network) in shaping consensus by spreading tax-related information.
    Date: 2008–01
  15. By: Riccardo DiCecio; Charles S. Gascon
    Abstract: We use non-parametric distribution dynamics techniques to reassess the convergence of per capita personal income (PCPI) across U.S. states and across metropolitan and nonmetropolitan portions of states for the period 1969-2005. The long-run distribution of PCPI is bimodal for both states and metro/nonmetro portions. Further- more, the high income mode of the distribution across metro and nonmetro portions corresponds to the single mode of the long-run distribution across metro portions only. These results (polarization or club-convergence) are reversed when weighting by population. The long run distributions across people are consistent with convergence. Migration and urbanization are the forces behind convergence.
    Keywords: Migration, Internal ; Income distribution
    Date: 2008
  16. By: Henry Saffer; Karine Lamiraud
    Abstract: Over time, increases in hours of work per capita have created the intuitively plausible notion that there is less time available to pursue social interactions. The specific question addressed in this paper is the effect of hours of work on social interaction. This is a difficult empirical question since omitted factors could increase both hours of work and social interaction. The approach taken in this paper utilizes an exogenous decline in hours of work in France due to a new employment law. The results clearly show that the employment law reduced hours of work but there is no evidence that the extra hours went to increased social interactions. Although hours of work are not an important determinant of social interaction, human capital is found to be important. The effect of human capital, as measured by education and age, is positive for membership groups but negative for visiting relatives and friends. Also, contrary to expectations, there are no important differences in the determinants of social interaction by gender, marital status or parent status. Finally, a comparison between France and the US show that the response to human capital and other variables are much the same in both nations.
    JEL: Z1
    Date: 2008–01
  17. By: Catherine Bros (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I)
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of the process of segregation formation. The claim is that segregation does not originate from prejudice or exogenous psychological factors. Rather it is the product of strategic interactions among social groups in a setting where one group has captured power. While using a model featuring random matching and repeated games, it is shown that whenever one group seizes power, members of other groups will perceive additional value in forging long term relationships with the mighty. They will systematically cooperate with the latter either because it is in their interest to do so or because they do not have other choice. The mighty natural response to this yearning to cooperate is to refuse intergroup relationships. The dominated group will best reply to this new situation by in turn rejecting the relationships and a segregation equilibrium emerges. Segregation stems from the systematic cooperation by one group with another. However, not all societies that have experienced power captures converge towards segregation. It is shown that the proportion of individuals that are actually powerful within the mighty group determines convergence towards segregation.
    Keywords: Segration, discrimination, power, caste, repeated games, prisoner's dilemma, clubs, status, social organizations.
    Date: 2008–01
  18. By: Chantarat, Sommarat; Barrett , Christopher
    Abstract: The paper explores the role social network capital might play in facilitating poor agents’ escape from poverty traps. We model and simulate endogenous network formation among households heterogeneously endowed with both traditional and social network capital who make investment and technology choices over time in the absence of financial markets and faced with multiple production technologies featuring different fixed costs and returns. We show that social network capital can serve as either a complement to or a substitute for productive assets in facilitating some poor households’ escape from poverty. However, the voluntary nature of costly social network formation also creates both involuntary and voluntary exclusionary mechanisms that impede some poor households’ exit from poverty. Through numerical simulation, we show that the ameliorative potential of social networks therefore depends fundamentally on broader socioeconomic conditions, including the underlying wealth distribution in the economy, that determine the feasibility of social interactions and the net intertemporal benefits of social network formation. In some settings, targeted public transfers to the poor can crowd-in private resources by inducing new social links that the poor can exploit to escape from poverty.
    JEL: O1 Z1 I3
    Date: 2008–01
  19. By: Jeroen de Jong; Pieter Fris; Erik Stam
    Abstract: Creative industries are nowadays central in many policies to stimulate the economic development of cities, regions and advanced capitalist economies in general. This paper contributes to the  creative industries literature in two respects. First, we empirically explore if high shares of creative industries in regions go together with one particular aspect of regional economic development, namely firm entry rates. Drawing on Dutch trade register data over a six-year period, it is concluded that at the level of municipalities there is indeed a connection between the share of creative industries and firm entry, even after controlling for the sizes of municipalities, and no matter if creative industries are defined broadly or narrowly. Second, the paper analyses if firms in creative industries are heterogeneous in terms of business processes and their contribution to regional firm entry. Drawing on previous work four creative domains are identified: arts, media and entertainment, creative business services and, at the periphery, knowledge intensive business services. After analysing survey data of 4,746 Dutch SMEs, we find that firms across these domains are distinct in their use of the surveyed business practices: innovation, strategy and marketing, and human resources practices. Especially knowledge intensive services firms are deviant. For the connection with firm entry rates, it appears that high shares of firms in the arts and knowledge intensive business services are significantly connected with regional firm entry rates, while media and entertainment and creative business services remain insignificant. Implications for practitioners and future research are discussed.
    Date: 2007–12–20

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