Research

Publications

Racial segregation in the United States since the Great Depression: A dynamic segregation approach

with Simone Marsiglio and Sandy Suardi

Abstract

Racial segregation is a salient feature of cities in the United States. Models like Schelling (1971) show that segregation can arise through white preferences for residing near minorities. Once the threshold or “tipping point” is passed, the models predict that all whites will leave. Our paper uses census-tract data for six cities in the United States from the 1930s and 1970–2010 to measure decadal, city-specific tipping points. We use a structural break procedure to estimate the tipping points and incorporate these in a regression-discontinuity design to estimate the impact on population trends for neighborhoods that exceed that threshold while controlling for city-specific trends in migration. We find that the magnitude of white flight for neighborhoods that have tipped in 2000 has fallen to between 23% and 36% of the level seen in 1970. There was no discontinuity in white flight after accounting for migration trends during the Great Depression. Finally, we show that in-migration of minorities in tipped neighborhoods do not fill in the gap left by white flight.

New Multi-City Estimates of the Changes in Home Values, 1920-1940

with Price Fishback

Abstract

The boom and bust in housing during the 2000s has led to renewed interest in the boom and bust in housing between 1920 and 1940. The most commonly used housing value series for this period is reported by Robert Shiller in Irrational Exuberance. We investigate the changes in housing values in cities between 1920 and 1940 using a variety of alternative sources with many more cities available for comparison than in the Shiller series. We find that all nominal housing value series show a strong decline between the late 1920s and the early 1930s. However, all of the series except the Shiller series imply that housing values in 1920 were well below the 1930 value and thus imply much stronger growth rates in housing values during the 1920s housing boom. Only the Shiller series predicts a strong recovery in housing values to within 5 percent of the 1930 level. All of the others suggest that nominal housing values in 1940 remained at least 18 percent below the 1930 values and several series suggest that values lurched downward between 1933 and 1940. The results suggest that a significant reconsideration of the operation of housing markets in the 1920s and 1930s is required.

The New Deal, Race, and Home Ownership in the 1920s and 1930s

with Price Fishback

Abstract

Many federal government housing policies began during the New Deal of the 1930s. Many claim that minorities benefited less from these policies than whites. We estimate the relationships between policies in the 1920s and 1930s and black and white home ownership in farm and nonfarm settings using a pseudo-panel of repeated cross-sections of households in 1920, 1930, and 1940 matched with policy measures in 460 state economic areas. The policies examined include FHA mortgage insurance, HOLC loan refinancing, state mortgage moratoria, farm loan programs, public housing, public works and relief, and payments to farmers to take land out of production.

Information and the Impact of Climate and Weather on Mortality Rates during the Great Depression

with Price Fishback, Werner Troesken, Michael Haines, Paul Rhode, and Melissa Thomasson

Abstract

Global warming has become a watchword for environmental policy over the past three decades. Daily temperature highs were thought to have reached the highest levels in recorded history within the past decade. Each month, there are reports of new studies of melting glaciers, thinning of ice caps on mountains, and warming in various areas throughout the world. Al Gore shared an Academy Award for his association with the movie An Inconvenient Truth, a film warning of global warming and its potential dire consequences. He then shared a Nobel Peace Prize with a group of  scientists warning of the dangers of global warming. Much of the force of Gore’s warnings about global warming comes from his predictions about the impact of warming on human populations and the economy. Yet the large volume of studies of climate change has not been matched by nearly as many studies of the impact of climate and weather on populations and economies or how populations and economies will respond. If the claims that global temperatures will warm over the next few decades no matter what
policy steps we take today are true, such studies are invaluable.

We have developed a database that combines information on infant and noninfant mortality rates, daily high temperatures and inches of precipitation, and a rich set of socioeconomic correlates for over 3,000 counties in the United States for each year between 1930 and 1940. We focus on infant mortality because infant mortality has long been seen as a key nonincome measure of standards of living, the death of an infant is an extraordinarily painful event, and infants are likely the most sensitive of populations to variations in conditions. We also examine the noninfant death rate to see if the patterns seen for infant deaths carry over to death rates for people in all age groups. The results of the Great Depression analysis show the importance of controlling for access to information when measuring the relationship between mortality and climate.

Working Papers

Social Interactions, Racial Segregation and Dynamics of Tipping

with Simone Marsiglio, Sandy Suardi, and Marco Tolotti

Abstract

We develop an analytically tractable population dynamics model of heterogeneous agents to characterize how social interactions within a neighborhood determine the dynamic evolution of its ethnic composition. We characterize the conditions under which integration or segregation will occur, which depends on the majority's social externality parameter and net bene t from leaving, and the minority's leaving probability. Minority segregation may result from the process of tipping, which may arise from three possible channels: two are related to exogenous shocks (migration flows and changes in tipping points) and one is related to the endogenous probabilistic features of our framework (endogenous polarization). This characterization of integration and segregation conditions yields interesting policy implications for the use of social and urban planning policies to mitigate segregation.

International Trademarking and Regional Export Performance

with Stephen Petrie, Alex Codoreanu, Russell Thomson, and Elizabeth Webster

Abstract

Analysis of international trade at the sub-national region level is perennially hampered by the lack of granular data. We contribute a new analytic approach for understanding trade performance of sub-national regions using a newly constructed international trademark filing dataset. We show that international trademarks provide an indicator of regional export activity by analyzing US data aggregated to the industry and State level. Our new dataset shows more detailed information about exporting businesses than have previously been unavailable such as the company name, industry, market and location. It is therefore valuable for public sector export promotion programs as well as business seeking timely information about the behavior of their competitors.

Co-innovation - the Australian Macarthur Story

with David Paynter

Abstract

To be added

Hedonic Price Indexes during the Great Depression

with Price Fishback

Abstract

To be added

A Comprehensive Look at the Interaction of Heritage, Zoning and Housing Values

with Adrian Puglia

Abstract

To be added