Economics

Minimum Parking Requirements, Transit Proximity and Development in New York City

Minimum Parking Requirements, Transit Proximity and Development in New York City
RCWP 10-004 Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy

McDonnell, Simon, Josiah Madar and Vicki Been
04/01/2010

New York City policymakers are planning for a city of over 9 million residents by 2030, a large increase from today. A central goal of City officials is to accommodate this increase while simultaneously improving the City’s overall environmental performance, addressing externalities arising from traffic congestion and providing increased access to affordable housing. The requirement in the City’s zoning code that new residential construction be accompanied by a minimum number of off-street parking spaces, however, may conflict with this goal. This paper combines a theoretical discussion of parking requirements in New York City with a quantitative analysis of how they relate to transit and development opportunity. It draws direct relations between minimum parking requirements with the rise in housing prices and the reduction of density.

Half the World is Unbanked

Half the World is Unbanked
Financial Access Initiative Report, October 2009. Feature in McKinsey Quarterly, March 2010

Jonathan Morduch, Alberto Chaia, Aparna Dalal, Tony Goland, Maria Jose Gonzalez, and Robert Schiff
03/01/2010

Limited information on the size and nature of the global population using financial services limits policy makers’ abilities to identify what’s working and what’s not, and it limits financial services providers’ abilities to identify where the opportunities lie and where they could learn from current successes.

A new report, “Half the world is unbanked,” provides an improved estimate of the size and nature of the global population that does and does not use formal (or semiformal) financial services.

This paper builds on a data set compiled from existing cross-country data sources on financial access and socioeconomic and demographic characteristics to generate an improved estimate of the size and nature of the global population that does and does not use formal (or semiformal) financial services.

How much should we invest in preventing childhood obesity?

How much should we invest in preventing childhood obesity?
Health Aff (Millwood). 2010 Mar-Apr;29(3):372-8.

Trasande L
03/01/2010

Policy makers generally agree that childhood obesity is a national problem. However, it is not always clear whether enough is being spent to combat it. This paper presents nine scenarios that assume three different degrees of reduction in obesity/overweight rates among children in three age groups. A mathematical model was then used to project lifetime health and economic gains. Spending $2 billion a year would be cost-effective if it reduced obesity among twelve-year-olds by one percentage point. The analysis also found that childhood obesity has more profound economic consequences than previously documented. Large investments to reduce this major contributor to adult disability may thus be cost-effective by widely accepted criteria.

Welcome to the Neighborhood: What can Regional Science Contribute to the Study of Neighborhoods?

Welcome to the Neighborhood: What can Regional Science Contribute to the Study of Neighborhoods?
Journal of Regional Science

O'Regan, K. & Ellen, I.G.
01/13/2010

We argue in this paper that neighborhoods are highly relevant for the types of issues at the heart of regional science. First, residential and economic activity takes place in particular locations, and particular neighborhoods. Many attributes of those neighborhood environments matter for this activity, from the physical amenities, to the quality of the public and private services received. Second, those neighborhoods vary in their placement in the larger region and this broader arrangement of neighborhoods is particularly important for location choices, commuting behavior and travel patterns. Third, sorting across these neighborhoods by race and income may well matter for educational and labor market outcomes, important components of a region's overall economic activity. For each of these areas we suggest a series of unanswered questions that would benefit from more attention. Focused on neighborhood characteristics themselves, there are important gaps in our understanding of how neighborhoods change - the causes and the consequences. In terms of the overall pattern of neighborhoods and resulting commuting patterns, this connects directly to current concerns about environmental sustainability and there is much need for research relevant to policy makers. And in terms of segregation and sorting across neighborhoods, work is needed on better spatial measures. In addition, housing market causes and consequences for local economic activity are under researched. We expand on each of these, finishing with some suggestions on how newly available data, with improved spatial identifiers, may enable regional scientists to answer some of these research questions.

Welcome to the Neighborhood: What Can Regional Science Contribute to the Study of Neighborhoods?

Welcome to the Neighborhood: What Can Regional Science Contribute to the Study of Neighborhoods?
JOURNAL OF REGIONAL SCIENCE, VOL. 50, NO. 1, 2010, pp. 363-379

Ellen, I.G. & O'Regan, K.
01/13/2010

We argue in this paper that neighborhoods are highly relevant for the types of issues at the heart of regional science. First, residential and economic activity takes place in particular locations, and particular neighborhoods. Many attributes of those neighborhood environments matter for this activity, from the physical amenities, to the quality of the public and private services received. Second, those neighborhoods vary in their placement in the larger region and this broader arrangement of neighborhoods is particularly important for location choices, commuting behavior and travel patterns. Third, sorting across these neighborhoods by race and income may well matter for educational and labor market outcomes, important components of a region's overall economic activity. For each of these areas we suggest a series of unanswered questions that would benefit from more attention. Focused on neighborhood characteristics themselves, there are important gaps in our understanding of how neighborhoods change - the causes and the consequences. In terms of the overall pattern of neighborhoods and resulting commuting patterns, this connects directly to current concerns about environmental sustainability and there is much need for research relevant to policy makers. And in terms of segregation and sorting across neighborhoods, work is needed on better spatial measures. In addition, housing market causes and consequences for local economic activity are under researched. We expand on each of these, finishing with some suggestions on how newly available data, with improved spatial identifiers, may enable regional scientists to answer some of these research questions.

The New Kaldor Facts: Ideas, Institutions, Population, and Human Capital

The New Kaldor Facts: Ideas, Institutions, Population, and Human Capital
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Vol. 2, No. 1, Jan. 2010, 224-45.

Paul Romer and Charles Jones
01/01/2010

In 1961, Nicholas Kaldor highlighted six "stylized" facts to summarize the patterns that economists had discovered in national income accounts and to shape the growth models being developed to explain them. Redoing this exercise today shows just how much progress we have made. In contrast to Kaldor's facts, which revolved around a single state variable, physical capital, our updated facts force consideration of four far more interesting variables: ideas, institutions, population, and human capital. Dynamic models have uncovered subtle interactions among these variables, generating important insights about such big questions as: Why has growth accelerated? Why are there gains from trade?

Age of Entry and the High School Performance of Immigrant Youth

Age of Entry and the High School Performance of Immigrant Youth
Journal of Urban Economics 67: 303-314

Stiefel, Leanna, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Dylan Conger
01/01/2010

In 2005, immigrants exceeded 12% of the US population, with the highest concentrations in large metropolitan areas. While considerable research has focused on how immigrants affect local wages and housing prices, less research has asked how immigrants fare in US urban public schools. Previous studies find that foreign-born students outperform native-born students in their elementary and middle school years, but urban policymakers and practitioners continue to raise concerns about educational outcomes of immigrants arriving in their high school years.

The authors use data on a large cohort of New York City (NYC) public high school students to examine how the performance of students who immigrate during high school (teen immigrants) differs from that of students who immigrate during middle school (tween immigrants) or elementary school (child immigrants), relative to otherwise similar native-born students. Contrary to prior studies, their difference-in-difference estimates suggest that, ceteris paribus, teen immigrants do well compared to native-born migrants, and that the foreign-born advantage is relatively large among the teen (im)migrants. That said, their findings provide cause for concern about the performance of limited English proficient students, blacks and Hispanics and, importantly, teen migrants. In particular, switching school districts in the high school years - that is, student mobility across school districts - may be more detrimental than immigration per se. Results are robust to alternative specifications and cohorts, including a cohort of Miami students.

 

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

Durham, Sarah
01/01/2010

In the current economic climate, nonprofits need to focus on ways to stand out from the crowd, win charitable dollars, and survive the downturn. Effective, mission-focused communications can help organizations build strong identities, heightened reputations, and increased fundraising capability. Brandraising outlines a mission-driven approach to communications and marketing, specifically designed to boost fundraising efforts. This book provides tools and guidance for nonprofits seeking to transform their communications and marketing through smart positioning, branding, campaigns, and materials that leverage solid strategy and great creative, with a unique focus on the intersection of communications and fundraising.

Crime and Urban Flight Revisited: The Effect of the 1990s Drop in Crime on Cities

Crime and Urban Flight Revisited: The Effect of the 1990s Drop in Crime on Cities
Journal of Urban Economics, 68 (3):247-259.

Ellen, I.G. & O'Regan, K.
01/01/2010

The ‘flight from blight' and related literatures on urban population changes and crime have primarily considered times of high or increasing crime rates. Perhaps the most cited recent work in this area, Cullen and Levitt (1999), does not extend through 1990s, a decade during which crime rates declined almost continuously, to levels that were lower than experienced in decades. This paper examines whether such declines contributed to city population growth and retention (abated flight). Through a series of population growth models that attempt to identify causality through several strategies (including instrumental variables) we find at best weak evidence that overall city growth is affected by changes in crime. We find no evidence that growth is differentially sensitive to reductions in crime, as compared to increases. Focusing more narrowly on within MSA migration, residential decisions that are more likely to be sensitive to local conditions, we do find evidence supporting abatement of ‘flight' - that is, lower levels of crime in central cities in the 1990s are associated with lower levels of migration to the suburbs. This greater ability to retain residents already in the city does not appear to be accompanied by a greater ability to attract new households from the suburbs, or from outside of the metropolitan area.

Do Public Schools Disadvantage Students Living in Public Housing?

Do Public Schools Disadvantage Students Living in Public Housing?
Urban Affairs Review, 46 (1):68-89.

Ellen, I.G., Schwartz, A.E., McCabe, B. & Chellman, C.
01/01/2010

In the United States, public housing developments are predominantly located in neighborhoods with low median incomes, high rates of poverty and disproportionately high concentrations of minorities. While research consistently shows that public housing developments are located in economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, we know little about the characteristics of the schools serving students in these neighborhoods.

In this paper, the authors examine the characteristics of elementary and middle schools attended by students living in public housing developments in New York City. Using the proportion of public housing students attending each elementary and middle school as their weight, they calculate the weighted average of school characteristics to describe the typical school attended by students living in public housing. They then compare these characteristics to those of the typical school attended by other students throughout the city in an effort to assess whether public schools systematically disadvantage students in public housing in New York City. 

Their  results are decidedly mixed. On one hand, they find no large differences between the resources of the schools attended by students living in public housing and the schools attended by their peers living elsewhere in the city; on the other hand, they find significant differences in student characteristics and outcomes. The typical school attended by public housing students has higher poverty rates and lower average performance on standardized exams than the schools attended by others. These school differences, however, fail to fully explain the performance disparities: they find that students living in public housing score lower, on average, on standardized tests than their schoolmates living elsewhere -- even though they attend the same school. These results point to a need for more nuanced analyses of policies and practices in schools, as well as the outside-of-school factors that shape educational success, to identify and address the needs of students in public housing.

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