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Jel Classification:N92 

Working Paper
Blockbusting and the Challenges Faced by Black Families in Building Wealth Through Housing in the Postwar United States

We study the impacts of blockbusting, i.e. large-scale racial turnover of urban neighborhoods orchestrated by real estate professionals using aggressive and discriminatory practices. In a panel of census tracts across large cities in the postwar United States, we compare tracts subjected to blockbusting activity to similar neighboring tracts not subjected to blockbusting. We find that blockbusting caused substantially lower house values over the next few decades. To understand the mechanisms behind this effect, we analyze property-level data in one neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. We find ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2023-02

Working Paper
Freeway Revolts!

Freeway revolts were widespread protests across the U.S. following early urban Interstate construction in the mid-1950s. We present theory and evidence from panel data on neighborhoods and travel behavior to show that diminished quality of life from freeway disamenities inspired the revolts, a?ected the allocation of freeways within cities, and changed city structure. First, actual freeway construction diverged from initial plans in the wake of the growing freeway revolts and subsequent policy responses, especially in central neighborhoods. Second, freeways caused slower growth in population, ...
Working Papers , Paper 19-29

Working Paper
Lockdowns and Innovation: Evidence from the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Does social distancing harm innovation? We estimate the effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)—policies that restrict interactions in an attempt to slow the spread of disease—on local invention. We construct a panel of issued patents and NPIs adopted by 50 large US cities during the 1918 flu pandemic. Difference-in-differences estimates show that cities adopting longer NPIs did not experience a decline in patenting during the pandemic relative to short-NPI cities, and recorded higher patenting afterward. Rather than reduce local invention by restricting localized knowledge ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-46

Newsletter
How Common Was Blockbusting in the Postwar U.S.?

This article documents the prevalence of blockbusting—the orchestration of racial turnover in urban neighborhoods—throughout many major U.S. cities from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 468 , Pages 6

Working Paper
The Effects of the Great Migration on Urban Renewal

The Great Migration significantly increased the number of African Americans moving to northern and western cities beginning in the first half of the twentieth century. We show that their arrival shaped slum clearance and urban redevelopment efforts in receiving cities. To estimate the effect of migrants, we instrument for Black population changes using a shift-share instrument that interacts historical migration patterns with local economic shocks that predict Black out-migration from the South. We find that local governments responded by undertaking more urban renewal projects that aimed to ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-04

Working Paper
The Effects of the Great Migration on Urban Renewal

The Great Migration significantly increased the number of African Americans moving to northern and western cities beginning in the first half of the twentieth century. We show that their arrival shaped “slum clearance” and urban redevelopment efforts in receiving cities. To estimate the effect of migrants, we instrument for Black population changes using a shift-share instrument that interacts historical migration patterns with local economic shocks that predict Black out-migration from the South. We find that local governments responded by undertaking more urban renewal projects that ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-04

Working Paper
Freeway Revolts! The Quality of Life Effects of Highways

Why do freeways affect spatial structure? We identify and quantify the local disamenity effects of freeways. Freeways cause slower growth in central neighborhoods (where local disamenities exceed regional accessibility benefits) compared with outlying neighborhoods (where access benefits exceed disamenities). A quantitative model calibrated to Chicago attributes one-third of the effect of freeways on central-city decline to reduced quality of life. Barrier effects are a major factor in the disamenity value of a freeway. Local disamenities from freeways, as opposed to their regional ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-24

Working Paper
The Effects of the Great Migration on Urban Renewal

The Great Migration significantly increased the number of African Americans moving to northern and western cities beginning in the first half of the twentieth century. We show that their arrival shaped “slum clearance” and urban redevelopment efforts in receiving cities. To estimate the effect of migrants, we instrument for Black population changes using a shift-share instrument that interacts historical migration patterns with local economic shocks that predict Black out-migration from the South. We find that local governments responded by undertaking more urban renewal projects that ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-04

Working Paper
The Lasting Impact of Historical Residential Security Maps on Experienced Segregation

We study the impact of the 1930s HOLC residential security maps on experienced segregation based on cell phone records which track visits out of and into home neighborhoods. We compare adjacent neighborhoods, one of which was assigned a lower grade for creditworthiness than the other. We use a sample of neighborhood borders which, based on estimated propensity scores, are likely to have been drawn for idiosyncratic reasons. Neighborhoods on the lower graded side of the border are associated with more visits to other historically lower graded destination neighborhoods. Today, these destination ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2023-33

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