The Z-Axis: Elevation Gradient Effects in Urban America

87 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2016  

Victor Yifan Ye

Duke University, Department of Economics, Students

Charles Becker

Duke University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 7, 2016

Abstract

This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of hilliness effects in American urban communities. Using data from seventeen cities, robust relationships are established between elevation patterns and density and income gradients. We find that high-income households display strong preference for high-altitude, high-unevenness locations, leading to spatial income stratification at both the city and tract-level. We further analyze potential causes of this propensity: micro-climate, crime, congestion, view effects, and use of public transit. We conclude that the role of elevation in urban systems should not be neglected. Multi-dimensional spatial methods are crucial to investigations of cities with substantial unevenness. Redistributive social and economic policies must struggle with a fundamental, topographical dimension to inequality.

Keywords: Elevation, Hilliness, Household Income, Population Density, Segregation, Urban Gradients, Spatial Modelling

JEL Classification: J10, R11, R12

Suggested Citation

Ye, Victor Yifan and Becker, Charles, The Z-Axis: Elevation Gradient Effects in Urban America (June 7, 2016). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 217. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2791710 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2791710

Victor Yifan Ye

Duke University, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Durham, NC
United States

Charles Maxwell Becker (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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