City Beautiful

63 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2008

See all articles by Gerald A. Carlino

Gerald A. Carlino

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Albert Saiz

MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

The city beautiful movement, which in the early 20th Century advocated city beautification as a way to improve the living conditions and civic virtues of the urban dweller, had languished by the Great Depression. Today, new urban economic theory and policymakers are coming to see the provision of consumer leisure amenities as a way to attract population, especially the highly skilled and their employers. However, past studies have only provided indirect evidence of the importance of leisure amenities for urban development. In this paper we propose and validate the number of leisure trips to MSAs as a measure of consumer revealed preferences for local leisure-oriented amenities. Population and employment growth in the 1990s was about 2 percent higher in an MSA with twice as many leisure visits: the third most important predictor of recent population growth in standardized terms. Moreover, this variable does a good job at forecasting out-of-sample growth for the period 2000-2006. "Beautiful cities" disproportionally attracted highly-educated individuals, and experienced faster housing price appreciation, especially in supply-inelastic markets. Investment by local government in new public recreational areas within an MSA was positively associated with higher subsequent city attractiveness. In contrast to the generally declining trends in the American central city, neighborhoods that were close to "central recreational districts" have experienced economic growth, albeit at the cost of minority displacement.

Keywords: internal migration, amenities, urban population growth

JEL Classification: J11, J61, R23

Suggested Citation

Carlino, Gerald A. and Saiz, Albert, City Beautiful. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3778. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1293550 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Gerald A. Carlino (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ( email )

Ten Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1574
United States
215-574-6434 (Phone)
215-574-4364 (Fax)

Albert Saiz

MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
617-252-1687 (Phone)
617-258-6991 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

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