Job Market Paper: "Land-Use Regulations As Exclusion: A GIS Analysis"

Abstract: As residential areas in the United States are segregated by race and wealth, concerns have arisen about the sources of and motivations behind that segregation. A strong theme in the zoning literature is that municipalities adopt zoning regulations in order to exclude low-income and minority families. This study presents the first nationwide test for the presence of the exclusionary motive. This study utilizes an existing dataset of land-use regulations in approximately 2,600 U.S. municipalities, and U.S. Census data on the demographics of the areas surrounding those municipalities. Geographic Information System (GIS) methods identify the demographics within a set radius of each municipality. To address potential endogeneity of ethnic settlement patterns, this study employs a geographic instrumental variable. As a further robustness check, this study uses a dataset of all school district desegregation court orders as indicators of a municipality's incentive to use land-use regulations to accomplish segregation. The results offer some evidence of zoning to exclude of low-income households, but largely fail to provide empirical evidence of racially motivated land-use regulation.

The public choice of land-use regulations: Testing for the motive to exclude 

Abstract: One hypothesized motive for high land-use regulations is the desire to exclude certain groups. We conduct a comprehensive test of the notion that communities use land-use regulations to exclude lower-income or minority families. Using a nationwide index of land-use regulations in thousands of municipalities, along with U.S. Census American Community Survey data, we analyze the plausibility of the exclusionary motive behind these restrictions. We develop measures of income and racial disparities in surrounding areas and test their impact on levels of local land-use regulations using OLS regressions with state fixed-effects, as well as region-by-region analysis. We find some support for greater income inequality correlating with higher land-use restrictions, particularly among wealthier communities. There is a substantial bivariate relationship between indices of racial diversity and land-use restrictions, but this largely disappears after including even the most standard controls. 

Measuring the productivity gains from sectarian desegregation in Northern Ireland 

Abstract: Urban agglomeration theories predict larger cities have higher productivity per capita due to such forces as labor market pooling and knowledge spillovers. Northern Ireland offers a unique opportunity to estimate the productivity gains due to a desegregated labor market. Longstanding sectarianism created bifurcated economies in Northern Ireland cities, with most workforces comprised primarily of either Catholics or Protestants. These divisions impaired agglomeration forces. As conflict has declined in recent decades and the labor market has gradually integrated in recent years, theory predicts higher productivity due to greater economic agglomeration. This study uses a novel panel dataset combining productivity data with firm-level data on the religious make-up of workforces. Using this dataset, this paper quantifies the productivity gains from workplace desegregation using OLS methods with year and region fixed effects. Secondarily, this paper calibrates Northern Ireland’s desegregation to existing estimates of desegregation’s effect on productivity to estimate these returns to Northern Ireland. This analysis provides not only quantitative estimates of the economic benefits of desegregation to Northern Ireland, but also valuable insights for other regions facing similar sectarian divisions. Furthermore, it offers a unique opportunity to measure the impact of urban agglomeration forces.
Hannah Mead Kling,
Sep 30, 2016, 3:32 PM