Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning

52 Pages Posted: 14 May 2014  

Allison Shertzer

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics

Tate Twinam

University of Washington Bothell - Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Randall Walsh

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2014

Abstract

Zoning has been cited as a discriminatory policy tool by critics, who argue that ordinances are used to deter the entry of minority residents into majority neighborhoods through density restrictions (exclusionary zoning) and locate manufacturing activity in minority neighborhoods (environmental racism). However, identifying discrimination in these regulations is complicated by the fact that land use and zoning have been co-evolving for nearly a century in most American cities, rendering residential sorting and inequitable treatment observationally equivalent. We employ a novel approach to overcome this challenge, studying the introduction of comprehensive zoning in Chicago. Using fine-scale spatial data on pre-existing land uses and the locations of minority neighborhoods, we find evidence of a pre-cursor to exclusionary zoning that was applied to black neighborhoods. We also find strong evidence of inequitable treatment of both southern black and immigrant neighborhoods with both appearing to have been targeted for increased levels of industrial use zoning.

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Suggested Citation

Shertzer, Allison and Twinam, Tate and Walsh, Randall, Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning (May 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20108. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2436716

Allison Shertzer (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

4901 Wesley Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Tate Twinam

University of Washington Bothell - Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences ( email )

18115 Campus Way NE
UW1-330
Seattle, WA 98011
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.washington.edu/twinam/

Randall Walsh

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

4901 Wesley Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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