The Value of Piped Water and Sewers: Evidence from 19th Century Chicago

50 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2022 Last revised: 14 Mar 2022

See all articles by Michael Coury

Michael Coury

University of Pittsburgh

Toru Kitagawa

Brown University

Allison Shertzer

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics

Matthew Turner

Brown University - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2022

Abstract

We estimate the impact of piped water and sewers on property values in mid-19th century Chicago. The cost of sewer construction depends sensitively on imperceptible variation in grade, and such variations in grade delay water and sewer service to part of the city. This delay provides quasi-random variation for causal estimates. We extrapolate ATE estimates from our natural experiment to the area treated with water and sewer service during 1874-1880 using a new estimator. Water and sewer access increases property values by more than a factor of two. This exceeds costs by about a factor of 60.

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Suggested Citation

Coury, Michael and Kitagawa, Toru and Shertzer, Allison and Turner, Matthew, The Value of Piped Water and Sewers: Evidence from 19th Century Chicago (February 2022). NBER Working Paper No. w29718, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4028334

Michael Coury (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Toru Kitagawa

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Allison Shertzer

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

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

Matthew Turner

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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