Working Paper

Natural Amenities, Neighborhood Dynamics, and Persistence in the Spatial Distribution of Income


Abstract: We present theory and evidence highlighting the role of natural amenities in neighborhood dynamics, suburbanization, and variation across cities in the persistence of the spatial distribution of income. Our model generates three predictions that we confirm using a novel database of consistent-boundary neighborhoods in U.S. metropolitan areas, 1880{2010, and spatial data for natural features such as coastlines and hills. First, persistent natural amenities anchor neighborhoods to high incomes over time. Second, naturally heterogeneous cities exhibit persistent spatial distributions of income. Third, downtown neighborhoods in coastal cities were less susceptible to the widespread decentralization of income in the mid-20th century and experienced an increase in income more quickly after 1980.

Keywords: suburbanization; gentri cation; locational fundamentals; multiple equilibria;

JEL Classification: N90; O18; R23;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2017-01-30

Number: 17-3

Pages: 63 pages