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The Z-Axis: Elevation Gradient Effects in Urban America

63 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2016 Last revised: 13 Oct 2017

Victor Yifan Ye

Duke University, Department of Economics, Students

Charles Becker

Duke University - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 29, 2017

Abstract

This paper presents an in-depth analysis of hilliness effects in American urban communities. Using data from seventeen cities, we establish robust relationships between topography and density, income and housing value gradients. We find that high-income households display strong preference not only for higher altitude but also for unevenness, leading to spatial income stratification at both the city and tract-level. We analyze potential causes of this propensity: micro-climate, crime, congestion, view effects, and use of public transit. We conclude that multi-dimensional spatial methods are crucial to investigations of cities with substantial unevenness. Moreover, redistributive social and economic policies must struggle with a fundamental, topographical dimension to inequality.

Keywords: Elevation, Hilliness, Household Income, Population Density, 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 (September 29, 2017). 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 Ye

Duke University, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Durham, NC
United States

Charles 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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