Beautiful City: Leisure Amenities and Urban Growth

57 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2019 Last revised: 29 Apr 2020

See all articles by Gerald A. Carlino

Gerald A. Carlino

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Albert Salz

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2019-03-12


Modern 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 arguably only provided indirect evidence of the importance of leisure amenities for urban development. In this paper, we propose and validate the number of tourist trips and the number of crowdsourced picturesque locations as measures of consumer revealed preferences for local lifestyle amenities. Urban population growth in the 1990-2010 period was about 10 percentage points (about one standard deviation) higher in a metro area that was perceived as twice more picturesque. This measure ties with low taxes as the most important predictor of urban population growth. “Beautiful cities� disproportionally attracted highly educated individuals and experienced faster housing price appreciation, especially in supply-inelastic markets. In contrast to the generally declining trend of 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 Salz, Albert, Beautiful City: Leisure Amenities and Urban Growth (2019-03-12). FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 19-16, Available at SSRN: or

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 Salz

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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