The Welfare Costs of Superstorm Sandy
As most of the New York metropolitan region begins to get back to normal following the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy, researchers and analysts are trying to assess the total ?economic cost? of the storm. But what, exactly, is meant by economic cost? Typically, those tallying up the economic cost of a disaster think of two types of costs: loss of capital (property damage and destruction) and loss of economic activity (caused by disruptions). But there is another important type of economic loss that often is not estimated or discussed in policymaking decisions: loss of welfare or ...
The geography of life's chances
How accurate are quality-of-life rankings across cities?
Measuring relative quality of life from a cross-migration regression, with an application to Canadian provinces
We discuss specification of regression models for using migration data to infer the living standards of different regions, and for observing how much of the standard of living is determined by economic opportunities versus non-pecuniary amenities. We estimate a regression using Canadian data from 1976-95, which results in rankings of the provinces with respect to overall living standards and amenities, with different rankings for different age groups. The regression also uncovers some interesting evidence as to the existence of equilibrium
Voting with your feet in the United Kingdom: using cross-migration rates to estimate relative living standards
This paper reexamines and extends the literature on the use of migration rates to estimate compensating differentials as measures of regional quality of life. I estimate an interregional migration regression for the UK and use the results to measure regional quality of life and standard of living. The results suggest a North-South divide within England, and that Scotland and Wales have relatively high levels of both. The results also lead to a rejection of regional standard-of-living equivalence (long-run regional equilibrium) in the UK
A simple model of city crowdedness
Population density varies widely across U.S. cities. A calibrated general equilibrium model in which productivity and quality-of-life differ across locations can account for such variation. Individuals derive utility from consumption of a traded good, a nontraded good, leisure, and quality-of-life. The traded and nontraded goods are produced by combining mobile labor, mobile capital, and non-mobile land. An eight-fold increase in population density requires an approximate 50 percent productivity differential or an approximate 20 percent compensating differential. A thirty-two-fold increase in ...
Moving to nice weather
U.S. residents, both old and young, have been moving en masse to places with nice weather. Well known is the migration towards places with warmer winter weather, which is often attributed to the introduction of air conditioning. But people have also been moving to places with cooler and less-humid summer weather, which is the opposite of what would be expected from the introduction of air conditioning. Empirical evidence suggests that the main force driving weather-related moves is an increasing valuation of weather's contribution to quality of life. Cross-sectional population growth ...
The U.S. as a coastal nation
U.S. economic activity is overwhelmingly concentrated at its ocean and Great Lakes coasts. Economic theory suggests four possible explanations: a present-day productivity effect, a present-day quality-of-life effect, delayed adjustment following a historical productivity or quality-of-life effect, and an agglomeration effect following a historical productivity or quality-of-life effect. Controlling for correlated natural attributes such as the weather and including proximity measures which a priori do not influence quality-of-life, linear regressions suggest that the high coastal ...
Moving to high quality of life
The U.S. population has been migrating to places with high perceived quality of life. A calibrated general-equilibrium model shows that such migration follows from broad-based technological progress. Rising national wages increase demand for consumption amenities. Under a baseline parameterization, a place with amenities for which individuals would pay 5 percent of their income grows 0.3 percent faster than an otherwise identical place. Productivity is shown to be a decreasingly important determinant of local population. The faster growth of high-amenity places is considerably strengthened if ...