Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Closing fortune's gate: How zoning constrains metropolitan growth and perpetuates racial and economic segregation
by Rothwell, Jonathan Townsend, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2009, 228; 3388083
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation analyzes how land use regulation affects metropolitan housing markets and residential segregation by race and income. Drawing primarily from a land use survey conducted by Rolf Pendall, as well as other data sources, I use ordinary least squares and instrumental variables to show that anti-density zoning is the most important component of land regulation on these outcomes. As the introduction shows, the degree of settlement in rural areas and historic population densities explain variation in contemporary zoning and are later used as instrumental variables. Chapter 1 shows that anti-density zoning depresses housing supply growth and increases prices. The effect is robust to controlling for other significant sources of growth, such as union regulations, and all other aspects of land regulation. Chapter 2 shows that anti-density zoning increases black-white segregation, and Chapter 3 reaches the same conclusion with respect to the segregation of Hispanics and Asians. Chapter 3 also compares the effect of zoning on segregation with other theories of segregation, and it concludes that zoning is about as important as racial differences in average income in explaining segregation. Chapter 4 uses a new measure of economic segregation—a neighborhood Gini coefficient—as well as a poor-affluent exposure index to show that anti-density zoning leads to greater class segregation. The conclusion discusses policy remedies in light of these and other adverse impacts, such as inefficient land use (i.e. sprawl) and longer commuting times. I argue that federal government intervention is necessary. One potential solution is to legislate the mandatory liberalization of density restrictions and combine this with federal government transfers to the rural jurisdictions whose budgets would be most affected by population growth.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Massey, Douglas S.
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography, Ethnic studies, Urban planning
Keywords: Housing, Immigration, Land regulation, Segregation, Urban economics, Zoning
Publication Number: 3388083
ISBN: 9781109522877