Economic Development

Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City

Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City
NYU Furman Center. Published March 2016.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Brian J. McCabe, and Eric Edward Stern
05/31/2016

The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which has the authority to designate areas as historic districts and to designate individual, interior and scenic landmark sites. The LPC aims to achieve a wide array of goals through preservation, from safeguarding historic assets to promoting tourism, enhancing property values, and furthering economic development. This fact brief does not seek to assess progress in meeting those goals, but rather to describe the extent of historic preservation in New York City and explore some of the differences between historic districts and non-regulated areas. This brief draws on our full report, Fifty Years of Historic Preservation, and focuses on historic districts as such districts include the majority of parcels regulated by the LPC.

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
Arabic translation.

Jonathan Morduch, Daryl Collins, Stuart Rutherford, & Orlanda Ruthven
05/24/2016

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day (Princeton University Press, 2009) tackles the fundamental question of how the poor make ends meet. Over 250 families in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa participated in this unprecedented study of the financial practices of the world's poor.

These households were interviewed every two weeks over the course of a year, reporting on their most minute financial transactions. This book shows that many poor people have surprisingly sophisticated financial lives, saving and borrowing with an eye to the future and creating complex "financial portfolios" of formal and informal tools.

Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, Portfolios of the Poor will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.

Failure vs. Displacement: Why an Innovative Anti-Poverty Program Showed no Net Impact in South India

Failure vs. Displacement: Why an Innovative Anti-Poverty Program Showed no Net Impact in South India
September 2015. Journal of Development Economics 116: 1-16.

Jonathan Morduch, Jonathan Bauchet, & Shamika Ravi
05/24/2016

We analyze a randomized trial of an innovative anti-poverty program in South India, part of a series of pilot programs that provide “ultra-poor” households with inputs to create new, sustainable livelihoods (often tending livestock). In contrast with results from other pilots, we find no lasting net impact on income or asset accumulation in South India. We explore concerns with program implementation, data errors, and the existence of compelling employment alternatives. The baseline consumption data contain systematic errors, and income and consumption contain large outliers. Steps to address the problems leave the central findings largely intact: Wages for unskilled labor rose sharply in the area while the study was implemented, blunting the net impact of the intervention and highlighting one way that treatment effects depend on factors external to the intervention itself, such as broader employment opportunities.

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Brian J. McCabe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
04/05/2016

Problem, research strategy, and findings: A number of studies have examined the property value impacts of historic preservation, but few have considered how preservation shapes neighborhood composition. In this study, we ask whether the designation of historic districts contributes to changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of New York City neighborhoods. Bringing together data on historic districts with a panel of census tracts, we study how neighborhoods change after the designation of a historic district. We find little evidence of changes in the racial composition of a neighborhood, but report a significant increase in socioeconomic status following historic designation.
Takeaway for practice: Our research offers empirical evidence on changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of neighborhoods following the designation of a historic district. It suggests that historic preservation can contribute to economic revitalization in urban neighborhoods, but that these changes risk making neighborhoods less accessible to lower-income residents. Planners should consider ways that the city government can work to preserve the highly valued amenities of historic neighborhoods while mitigating the potential for residential displacement.

Banks and Microbanks

Banks and Microbanks
Journal of Financial Services Research (2014) 46:1–53. DOI 10.1007/s10693-013-0177-z

Robert Cull, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, and Jonathan Morduch
08/01/2014

We combine two datasets to examine whether the presence of banks affects the profitability and outreach of microfinance institutions.We find evidence that competition matters. Greater bank penetration in the overall economy is associated with microbanks pushing toward poorer markets, as reflected in smaller average loans sizes and greater outreach to women. The evidence is particularly strong for microbanks relying on commercial-funding and using traditional bilateral lending contracts (rather than group lending methods favored by microfinance NGOs). We consider plausible alternative explanations for the correlations, including relationships that run through the nature of the regulatory environment and the structure of the banking environment, but we fail to find strong support for these alternative hypotheses.

The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence

The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence
Journal of Development Studies 50 (4), April 2014: 583-604.

David Roodman and Jonathan Morduch
04/01/2014

We replicate and reanalyse the most influential study of microcredit impacts (Pitt and Khandker, 1998). That study was celebrated for showing that microcredit reduces poverty, a much hoped-for possibility (though one not confirmed by recent randomized controlled trials). We show that the original results on poverty reduction disappear after dropping outliers, or when using a robust linear estimator. Using a new program for estimation of mixed process maximum likelihood models, we show how assumptions critical for the original analysis, such as error normality, are contradicted by the data. We conclude that questions about impact cannot be answered in these data.

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