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Do Evictions Cause Income Changes? An Instrumental Variables Approach

By Grace Mok

Evictions are an important aspect of the affordable housing crisis facing low-income American renters. However, there has been little research quantifying the causal impact of evictions, which poses challenges for academics interested in understanding inequality and policy-makers interested in reducing it. Merging two datasets both new to the literature, I address this gap in the causal literature by using an instrumental variables strategy to examine the impact of evictions on household income over time in Durham, North Carolina. Exploiting gentrification-related evictions as an instrument, I find a 2.5% decrease in household income after eviction. This is a small, but significant decrease in income given that median household income for households at time of eviction is about $15,000.

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Advisors: Professor Christopher Timmins, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: I32, R29

Is Inclusionary Zoning a Proper Remedy for the Affordable Housing Crisis? —A Case Study of IZ Programs in New Jersey and North Carolina

By Xinchen Li

The recent decade witnessed a worsening of the affordable housing crisis across the
country. Inclusionary zoning (IZ) has been a popular municipal remedy for the crisis.
However, it is unclear whether IZ actually adds to the affordable housing stock, and
whether it achieves its goal at the expense of average homeowners. Through a case
study of New Jersey and North Carolina, this paper aims to address these two questions.The results suggest that there is no statistically significant positive relationship between the presence of IZ and the housing price in the two states, but its beneficiary effects are also debatable.

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Advisors: Professor Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: D10 ; R2; R21

Landlords and Evictions: Changes in the Ownership of Multi-Family Rental Properties and Its Impact on Housing Stability in Durham, NC

By Ekim Buyuk

This thesis investigates the changes in the ownership of multi-family rental complexes in
Durham between 2000 and 2018 and their subsequent impact on housing stability. Specifically, I model and compare the likelihood that an eviction filing is issued by corporate and individual landlords in the periods before and after a transaction. Since the early 2000s, institutional investor share in all property sizes has increased dramatically in the United States. In 2013, the Blackstone Group released the first-ever rated bond backed by single-family securitized rental payments, and since then, numerous firms have followed with similar security offerings, which as of 2018 include bonds backed by multi family rental income. The surge of institutional investment in multi-family rental properties and its impacts on communities have remained largely ignored in academic literature. Durham County currently holds one of the highest eviction rates in North Carolina and ranks in the top 40 of highest evicting large cities in the United States. In my thesis, I uncover how ownership of rental properties in Durham has changed since the early 2000s and investigate whether the behaviors of “corporate landlords” differ significantly from those of individual investors (or “mom and pop” landlords”). I find that the proportion of properties under corporate ownership has increased across all property sizes since 2000, and the proportion of corporate owners that are based out-of-state has also increased. I also find evidence to suggest that different sizes of multi-family properties should be examined distinctly, as I uncover different trends across property sizes in both ownership and eviction rates. Using a fixed effects model, I find that overall, individuals appear to have a higher likelihood of filing an eviction against a tenant compared to institutional landlords in the months before and after a transaction. Finally, I find that large investors amongst both corporates and individuals, defined as investors that own more than 15 properties in Durham, are significantly more likely to evict than smaller investors are.

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Advisors: Professor Christopher Timmins, Professor Colin Rundel | JEL Codes: R3, R31

Durham and Gentrification: Assessing the Impact of Displacement in the Bull City

By Armin Hakimzadeh Ameri

In this paper, I look to Durham, North Carolina, to demonstrate potential harms from gentrification. Using an expansive proprietary dataset, I come to two main conclusions: first, there is a significant link between gentrification and displacement, as low-income renters are constrained by increased prices and are forced to leave their neighborhoods. Second, displaced renters are significantly more likely to move into communities with higher crime rates, worse schools, and increased rates of poverty. These results suggest that the Durham government should enact policies protecting low-income renters and other at-risk groups while also balancing the benefits of gentrification.

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Advisors: Dr. Christopher Timmins, and Dr. Grace Kim | JEL Codes: R2, R3

Deciphering Chinese Financing To African Countries

By Gwen Geng

The paper considers what attracts Chinese aid and Chinese investment to African countries and what kinds of Chinese financing projects are more likely to have unrevealed financing amount. The main database used is AidData: China’s Official Finance to Africa 2000-2012. It contains 2356 Chinese financing projects to 50 African countries. The results suggest that Chinese aid supports less developed economies, while Chinese investment favors countries with resource abundance and political conditions conducive to profit-making. The findings show that projects with unrevealed funding amounts tend to fall under investment and the government sector among other categories, raising questions on financing secrecy.

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Advisors: Robert Garlick and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: F13, F54, N47, N57, O24, R11, R15

The Impact of Access to Public Transportation on Residential Property Value: A Comparative Analysis of American Cities

By Moses Snow Wayne

This paper develops a consistent model for analyzing the impact of access to public transportation on property value applied to the four cities of Atlanta, Boston, New York, and San Francisco. This study finds a negative relationship between increasing distance to public transit and property value. Additionally, the elicited effects in each city generally align with geographic features and the degree to which a city is monocentric. This study also demonstrates the salience of using actual map-generated distances as proximity measures and characteristics of public
transit systems in modeling the relationship between public transportation and residential property value.

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Advisors: Dr. Patrick Bayer and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: C12, R14, R30, R41

Benefit Spillovers and Higher Education Financing: An Empirical Analysis of Brain Drain and State-Level Investment in Public Universities

By Chinmany G. Pandit

This paper analyzes the impact of out-migration of college graduates on state higher education investment. A three-stage least squares regression model with state and year fixed effects is developed and estimated, addressing the relationship between state legislative appropriations, tuition, and educated out-migration across 49 U.S. states from 2006-2015. The results support the notion that states respond negatively to benefit spillovers in higher education: for every one percent increase in the rate of educated out-migration, state appropriations decrease by 1.92 percent (roughly $140 per student). These findings suggest that an education subsidy
provided to states may be necessary to prevent underinvestment in higher education.

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Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: H7, H75, I22, I28, R23

The Toll of Commuting: The Effects of Commute Time on Well-Being

By M. Thomas Marshall Jr.

When deciding on housing location, people theoretically optimize for the best location given their commute time, housing cost, income, as well as other factors. Stutzer and Frey (2008) suggest that this is not true in some nations, such as in their investigation of Germany, with their results showing that the cost of an average commute is equivalent to 35.4% of the average income. This paper investigates the impact of commute time on the well-being of individuals in the United States, correcting for various other factors that determine housing choice such as race,
age, and whether they have a child living at home. The results of this study are clearly that the relationship found between commuting time and well-being cannot be proven to be statistically significant from zero, so there is not any evidence against optimization.

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Advisor: Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: D12, D61, R31, R41

Entrepreneurial Attractiveness: Amazon, Google, and the Search for Innovative Hot Spots

By Anna Katherine Kropf

Recent economic literature suggests that entrepreneurship in technological fields can spur economic growth, making it a popular topic for city development officials. Yet, this increasingly popular phenomenon is met by many economic questions. One of those questions is which characteristics of metropolitan areas are attractive to entrepreneurs. To answer the question of attractiveness on both the small business and corporate levels, I compare across two case studies: Amazon’s search for a second headquarters and Google’s tech hub network. Using principal component analysis, I statistically deduce seven components of attractiveness from an original 34 variables. These components are then weighted using three methods—a case study, a survey, and an empirical method—to produce comparable indices of attractiveness. Generally, I find that sizeable population and healthy economy are the strongest components. However, the statistically insignificant components that can change an urban area’s ranking considerably are talent and geographic network effects. Ultimately, creating policy to maximize these aspects can change a city’s innovative
trajectory.

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Advisor: Dr. Charles Becker | JEL Codes: O, O3, R, R1, R11

The Impact of Environmental Disamenities on Property Values: Evaluating the Municipal Fringe

By Ryan B. Hoecker

This paper analyzes the municipal fringe of cities in Eastern North Carolina between 2006-2016, and how the values of individual properties on the outskirts can fluctuate after they are
incorporated within a city. A large portion of the research process consisted of manually recreating annexation ordinances from scanned photocopies on ArcGIS, creating the first geographic archive of annexations in North Carolina compatible with digital software. As environmental nuisances, such as landfills and hazardous waste sites, are often located on town borders, this study pays specific attention to how their presence affects the change in property values before and after annexation. Results show that incorporation brings with it higher property values, and that the impact of annexation is greater in the presence of nuisances that threaten water quality for private wells.

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Advisor: Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: H79, Q53, R31

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