Research

My research statement can be downloaded here

Environmental Gentrification (Job Market Paper)

Abstract: Policies that are designed to reduce environmental damages have the goal of protecting the environment while promoting efficiency and pursuing equity in their distribution of benefits and costs. This paper measures the differential welfare impacts of environmental policies across household groups. To account for property market responses and re-optimization of residential housing decisions, a dynamic model of housing decisions with endogenous tenure status (renting vs. owning) and forward-looking residents is used. This paper extends the distributional analysis in four previously overlooked dimensions: differential impacts of property market appreciation on renters and owners, preference heterogeneity over public amenities, wealth accumulation corresponding to property market changes, and expectations in dynamic housing decisions. The model is estimated taking advantage of an exogenous and unexpected environmental shock and employing a unique data set (L.A.FANS Data) tracking residents’ locations and tenure choices in Los Angeles County from 2000 to 2007. The results show that environmental improvements have regressive welfare impacts and favor owners more than renters. Welfare impacts can be reduced for renters and can be changed from positive to negative for low-income renters incorporating housing market responses and residential sorting. In contrast, owners of all incomes benefit more due to the capitalization of environmental improvements incorporating housing market responses. Provided that renters are more likely to be low-income earners and people of color, the differential welfare results in this paper raise the concern of environmental justice in policy design and evaluations.

The Link between Gentrification and Displacement and the Effects of Displacement on Residents in Los Angeles County (with Christopher Timmins and Ashley Qiang)

Abstract: Over the past several decades, cities across the U.S. have experienced gentrification and the associated socio-demographic shifts. As this phenomenon has accelerated, concerns about gentrification-induced displacement and its impacts on incumbent residents have grown. This paper studies the link between gentrification and displacement, identifying the social groups most likely to be displaced and the impacts on those displaced groups. The results provide evidence of displacement, showing that lower-income renters are significantly more likely to exit from gentrifying neighborhoods. Moreover, they tend to move to neighborhoods with significantly lower school quality and higher crime rates and have a higher probability of changing jobs and receiving lower incomes. Owners, however, are more likely to remain in gentrifying neighborhoods, benefiting from the increased amenities and rising home values. When these owners do move, they convert those capital gains into improved living conditions in stark contrast to renters. These results provide direct evidence of how housing tenure defines the welfare consequences of environmental improvements.

Do Evictions Cause Income Changes? An Instrumental Variables Approach (with Grace Mok)

Abstract: Evictions are an important aspect of the affordable housing crisis facing low-income renters, but there has been little research quantifying their causal impacts. This poses challenges for academics interested in understanding inequality and policy-makers interested in reducing it. Merging two datasets that are 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.