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BIDDING FOR PARKING: The Impact of University Affiliation on Predicting Bid Values in Dutch Auctions of On-Campus Parking Permits

By Grant Kelly

Parking is often underpriced and expanding its capacity is expensive; universities need a better way of reducing congestion outside of building costly parking garages. Demand based pricing mechanisms, such as auctions, offer a possible solution to the problem by promising to reduce parking at peak times. However, faculty, students, and staff at universities have systematically different parking needs, leading to different parking valuations. In this study, I determine the impact university affiliation has on predicting bid values cast in three Dutch Auctions of on-campus parking permits sold at Chapman University in Fall 2010. Using clustering techniques crosschecked with university demographic information to detect affiliation groups, I ran a log-linear regression, finding that university affiliation had a larger effect on bid amount than on lot location and fraction of auction duration. Generally, faculty were predicted to have higher bids whereas students were predicted to have lower bids.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Allan Collard-Wexler, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: C38, C57, D44, R4, R49 | Tagged: Auctions, Parking, University Parking, Bidder Affiliation, Dutch Auction, Clustering

The Effect of Minority History on Racial Disparities in the Mortgage Market: A Case Study of Durham and New Haven

By Jisoo Yoon

In the aftermath of the housing market crash, the concentration of subprime mortgage loans in minority neighborhoods is a current and long-standing issue. This study investigates the presence of racial disparities in mortgage markets by examining two cities with contrasting histories of African American and Hispanic establishment: Durham, North Carolina and New Haven, Connecticut. This study examines data by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), and distills the effect of minority legacy on the perception of racial risk by using econometric instruments to separate the behavior of national lenders and local lenders. The econometric methods allow national lenders to reflect objective risk measures and neighborhood race dynamics, while local lenders reflect subjective attitudes towards certain races. With its longer history of African American presence, Durham shows a positive attitude towards Black borrowers at the local level, while New Haven shows a more favorable attitude towards its Hispanic residents. Nonetheless, racial legacy also materializes as a negative factor in the form of increased residential segregation and spillover effects. Furthermore, a temporal variation analysis of pre- and post-mortgage market reform data affirms the disappearance of racial bias and continued presence of spillover risk in Durham.

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Advisor: Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: C01, G21, J15, R21, R23, R31 | Tagged: Econometrics, Mortgages, Economics of Minorities, Races, Census, Migration, Population, Neighborhood Characteristics, Housing Supply and Market

The Impact of Suburbanization on Poverty Concentration: Using Transportation Networks to Predict the Spatial Distribution of Poverty

By Winston Riddick

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the determinants of concentrated poverty, a phenomenon where socioeconomically deprived groups are heavily concentrated in particular neighborhoods in a metropolitan area. Drawing on Land Use Theory and the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis, I develop a theory that identifies suburbanization as a principal cause of poverty concentration. Using interstate highway expansion as a source of exogenous variation in suburbanization rates, I evaluate this relationship in 240 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) from 1960-1990, with concentrated poverty measured at the tract level. Panel regressions with MSA Fixed Effects find a positive and significant relationship between highway expansion and increased poverty concentration under a variety of specifications, including alternative measures of highways and an instrumented measure of urban population decline.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Charles Becker, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: I30, J61, R13, R40 | Tagged: Highways, Poverty Concentration, Spatial Mismatch, Suburbanization, Transportation Networks

The effect of Mexico’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program on Migration Decisions

By Aki Ishikawa

The Mexican conditional cash transfer program, Oportunidades, is commonly overlooked for long-term evaluations. One understudied effect of this poverty-reduction program is the change in migration behavior caused by the cash transfers. Using data from the Mexican Family Life Survey, this study outlines the effects of the social net program on international migration of low-income households in Mexico. The results suggest that the program causes a positive increase in likelihood for international migration for program participants. Within participating households, individuals who are responsible for grant income tend to migrate less compared to the other members of the households. This research provides valuable insight into existing literature on migration of low-income households in relation to the availability of the conditional cash transfer program.

Honor’s Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: R2, R23, R28 | Tagged: Conditional Cash Transfer Program, Developmental Economics, International Migration

High Occupancy Toll Lines: Do They Reduce Congestion?

By David Wang

In 2009, according to data from the American Community Survey, ninety percent of workers in the U.S. used a privately owned vehicle when commuting. For an average commuter, the annual traffic delay in urban areas has increased from below fifteen hours in 1982 to more than thirty-five hours in 2007 (Winston, 2013). Furthermore, the annual cost of congestion, including travel delays and fuel expenditures, exceeds $100 billion a year (Winston, 2013). From a welfare standpoint, these travel delays cause a total welfare cost of $45 billion a year (Langer, Winston, & Baum-Snow, 2008). Governments have considered a variety of solutions to combat this congestion, the most prevalent being high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and congestion pricing, including high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.
The federal government heavily encouraged the construction of HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, passing the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. It was thought that the speed differential between HOV lanes and general-purpose (GP) lanes would lead drivers to switch to carpools, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the roads and the amount of congestion. However, in practice, HOV lanes have not been very successful and single occupancy vehicle (SOV) users often complain about underutilized HOV lanes. These observations mirror transportation researchers’ criticisms of the ineffectiveness of HOV lanes in reducing congestion. Dahlgren (1998) argues that adding a GP lane to existing highways is more effective at lowering delay costs than adding an HOV lane.
Another strategy, congestion pricing, involves placing a price on using roadways to offset the social cost arising from such use. Under Vickrey’s theory, the charges should match the marginal social cost of each trip as closely as possible (Vickrey, 1963). In a standard highway with only GP lanes, the personal cost of traveling, in the form of the value of time, often does not equal the social cost imposed on other commuters on the highway. This scenario gives rise to a mismatch in incentives and to a tragedy of the commons. In actual application, few tolling schemes for congestion pricing exist. Since technology has made collecting tolls cheaper, the main challenge now is public resistance. Current implementations of congestion pricing include Singapore’s Electronic Road Pricing system and U.S. HOT lanes.
High occupancy toll (HOT) lanes have potential as a politically feasible policy to improve utilization of HOV lanes and generate revenue. HOT lanes give solo drivers the option to pay a toll for use of HOV lanes. The HOT lanes help address several issues, for example balancing the load and reducing congestion by shifting some solo drivers from GP lanes to HOV lanes, giving drivers the option of traveling on less congested lanes, and generating revenue for highway operators (Poole & Orski, 2000). Many studies of HOT lanes use California State Route 91 as an example of a HOT highway and seek to model any welfare gains from its implementation (Liu & McDonald, 1998; Small & Yan, 2001). Opened in 1995, the SR-91 serves as a good case study because it was one of the first HOT operations in the U.S. The literature also explores the distributional effects of congestion pricing over the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, looking at a network of roads rather than a single one (Safirova et al., 2004). They emphasize that much of the benefit from HOT lanes comes from undoing the inefficiency created by existing HOV lanes. Safirova et al.’s study is one of few empirical ones in the literature. Nevertheless, theoretical models, such as that by Konishi and Mun (2010), could be used as a basis for future empirical studies. The economics literature covers welfare gains, but does not address empirically how the congestion reduction from HOV and HOT lanes has changed over time. Although theory may predict welfare gains in the short term, it is unclear what the long run effects may be. In this paper, we seek to examine the short-run effects of the conversion of HOV to HOT lanes on highway congestion.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Charles Becker, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: R41, R48 | Tagged: Congestion Pricing, HOT lanes, HOV lanes, Tolls, Transportation economics

The Impact of Population Mobility on repayment Rates in Microfinance Institutions

By Allison Vernerey

Several studies have attempted to model the determinants of repayment rates for group-based loans administered by micro-finance institutions (MFIs). One of the main variables that have been identifies as playing a role in determining the repayment rate is social capital. Empirical research however has struggled with quantifying this qualitative variable, resulting in vast inconsistencies across studies, aggravating cross-comparison and objective interpretation. Instead, we argue that the use of quantitative, cross-country comparable proxy that is intuitively linked to social capital would yield more consistent and reliable results. We hypothesize that population mobility is such a proxy, and that lower population mobility correlates positively with higher social capital and thus higher repayment rates. Using population mobility as a proxy for social capital would allow MFIs to lower their cost of data collection for performance assessments and simplify the process for policy makers trying to evaluate the programs success. At the village level, we find significant evidence that higher emigration within a community is strongly linked to lower repayment rates in micro-finance. These results provide micro-finance institutions with a new and more cost effective way to monitor their performance as well as improve their capacity to make well-informed lending decisions.

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Advisor: Genna Miller | JEL Codes: G, G2, G21 | Tagged: Bangladash, Microfinance Institutions, Population Mobility, Repayment Rates, Social Capital

Manufactured Housing Securitization

By Renan Cunha

Through prices of manufactured homes rose in the 2000’s, demand fell dramatically because of the boom in the stick-built housing market. One of the stated goals of securitization is to increase the supply of credit and decrease the cost of lending to make borrowing accessible to more homeowners.  This paper will study the effect of securitization of manufactured home loans on the availability of credit for borrowers in North Carolina.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: E51, R3, R31 | Tagged: Credit Availability, Manufactured Housing, Securitization, Trailer Parks

Race and Pollution Correlation as Predictor of Environmental Injustice

By Marissa Meir

Environmental injustice is a theory that claims distributions of toxic, hazardous and dangerous waste facilities are disproportionately located in low-income communities of color. This paper empirically demonstrates an alternative cause of environmental injustice- that low-income minorities are less likely to receive sizeable enough loans to buy a house in a cleaner area. It highlights a significant time in history, from 1999 to 2007, when wealth constraints were eased and loan amounts increased for people with the same income. The results show that minorities increase their demand of environmental goods given an increase in loan amounts, suggesting that people of color care about environmental quality, but, due to wealth constraints, do not have the same opportunities
in the housing market.

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Advisor: Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: P46, P48, Q50, Q53, Q56, Q58, R20, R21, R31, R32 | Tagged: Air Quality, Environmental Injustice, Housing Market, Income, Loan, Wealth Constraints

Economic Racism: A Look at Rental Prices in 1930

By Basel Fakhoury

The Great Migration caused massive demographic changes in Northeastern and Midwestern cities as African Americans moved from the South to the North. These changes led to economic discrimination and segregation within northern cities. This paper compares African American and white rental prices in four major cities: Chicago, Detroit, New York City, and Philadelphia in an effort to see how this discrimination and segregation affected rental prices. The results consistently show that in the most precise geographic area, prices rise as the concentration of blacks in those neighborhoods rise, which I believe is a result of overcrowding.

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Advisor: Patrick Bayer | JEL Codes:  J1, J11, J15, R31 | Tagged: Economic Discrimination, Housing Markets, Segregation, The Great Migration

Understanding the Value of Amenities: A Study of the Land Value Determination Process in Hangzhou, China

By Ching-Ching Chen

This paper seeks to investigate the determinants of land within Hangzhou China.  There are two main goals that the research paper will attempt to address. The first is to build upon existing research on land pricing in terms of the theories outlined by the monocentric city and hedonic pricing models. Second, the paper will use a dataset of Hangzhou land sales transactions between the years of 2003 and 2011 to investigate the possible existence of “luxury residuals” among commercial and residential land parcels. Nonetheless, due to the presence of large residuals, while Chinese consumers value certain amenities is not fully captured by these results. Rather, a number of case studies or outliers are used to fully examine the influences of these amenity variables in driving extreme prices. The result support the hypothesis that China, located at the bottom of Kuznets environmental curve, values amenities at extreme levels as a result of scarcity.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: Q51, R0, R14, R52 | Tagged: Empirical Analysis, Hangzhou Land Price Appreciation, Hedonic Pricing Model, Kuznets Curve, Monocentric City Model

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu