Essays in Urban and Labor Economics

TitleEssays in Urban and Labor Economics
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRingo, D
AdvisorCaetano, GKinsler Jo
Number of Pages107
Date Published2014
UniversityUniversity of Rochester
CityRochester, NY
Thesis TypePh.D.
Accession Number1541549139
KeywordsConsumption and Savings, Demographics, Employment and Labor Force, Event History/Life Cycle, Housing, Methodology, Net Worth and Assets

This dissertation contributes to two literatures: Urban Economics and Labor Economics. In the first chapter I estimate the effect of home ownership on individual workers' unemployment and wage growth, as well as other labor market outcomes. Because of higher moving costs, home owners will be less willing than renters to relocate for work and could therefore face longer unemployment spells. To elaborate on this hypothesis, credited to Oswald (1996), I build a simple search model and obtain a set of labor market predictions to test. The current microeconomic literature has reached mixed results regarding home ownership's impact, with most studies concluding that home ownership reduces unemployment. I show that the instruments used are likely to be invalid because of, among other reasons, Tiebout (1956) type sorting into housing markets. I use an instrumental variable free of the endogeneity present in other work: the county level home ownership rate when and where the worker grew up. This IV affects workers' preferences for housing but not, conditional on my covariates, their labor market ability. My results indicate that home ownership is a significant hindrance to mobility, and homeowners suffer longer unemployment spells and slower wage growth because of it. In the second chapter I use a dynamic model of neighborhood choice to estimate household preferences over the demographic characteristics of a neighborhood. I focus on the racial mix, average income and housing price level of a neighborhood, and whether households prefer neighbors that are similar to themselves. Identification of these preferences is complicated by the social aspect of neighborhood amenities. A household's valuation of a particular choice (neighborhood) is a function of the choices other households in the market have made and will make in the future. I show that demographic characteristics of a neighborhood are therefore endogenous to neighborhood quality. Standard estimates of preferences over neighbors may be biased by the presence of such unobservable local amenities. I develop a framework to correct this problem based on a careful delineation of the information households could have access to before and after they make their decisions. The model I build has the advantage over the literature of being able to produce self-consistent predictions about demographic changes. I deal with the low frequency of observations in my data set, the decennial census, by simulating local housing markets between data collection periods. After controlling for type-specific preferences for the physical amenities of neighborhoods, I find a universal preference for higher income neighbors. In contrast to much of the literature, my results suggest white households have no aversion to minority neighbors. In the third chapter I estimate the effect of parental credit scores on the child's probability of attending and completing college. Parents in the US are increasingly supplementing the student loans available to their children with unsecured debt in their own name. This is the first paper on this topic to make use of direct observations of credit scores, rather than rely on proxies such as wealth shocks. I find that good parental credit significantly improves the child's probability of attending college, with a smaller (although still significant) effect on the probability of completing a four-year degree. I provide evidence that the estimated relationship is causal and not biased by, for example, unobserved ability. Additionally, I show that credit scores may affect attendance through channels other than access to the student loan market. I hypothesize households substitute the potential to borrow for precautionary savings.


Copyright - Copyright ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing 2014 Last updated - 2014-07-09 First page - n/a

Endnote Keywords

intergenerational transfer

Endnote ID


Short TitleEssays in Urban and Labor Economics
Citation Key6068