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Title:Three essays in urban economics
Author(s):Singh, Ruchi
Director of Research:McMillen, Daniel P
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McMillen, Daniel P
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Albouy, David Y; Bera, Anil K; Marx, Benjamin M
Department / Program:Economics
Discipline:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Urban Economics, Crime
Abstract:This dissertation consists of three chapters. The first chapter, titled “Response to Earthquake Fault Zoning in California” exploits changes in earthquake fault zones in California to provide evidence of capitalization of seismic risk into property values. The fault zone maps provide information regarding earthquake risks to the public under the Alquist Priolo Zoning Act of 1972. Using geographically consistent data for 1970–2010 at the census tract level, the paper finds that property values decline by around 6.6% after the delineation of the fault zone. This paper also examines the risk gradient and heterogeneity in willingness to pay using individual sales transactions, assessors' records and publicly available mortgage data for the City of Los Angeles. Using this micro transaction data for the period 1997 to 2016, the paper finds that, on average, house prices increase by around 1.8% for a mile increase in distance from the fault zone. The evidence also indicates that there is substantial heterogeneity in preferences, with whites being willing to pay a higher premium to avoid earthquake risks as compared with other groups. The second chapter titled “Do More Eyes on the Street Reduce Crime? Evidence from Chicago's Safe Passage Program” is joint work with Daniel McMillen and Ignacio Sarmiento. This chapter examines the effect of Chicago’s Safe Passage program on crime and school attendance. This program attempts to ensure the safety of student traveling to and from schools by placing civilian guards along specified routes. The program was launched during the 2009-2010 school year and now serves 140 schools. We use data from more than 10 years of geocoded Chicago police reports and school level data to analyze the Safe Passage program's effect on crime rates and rate of absenteeism from schools. Our findings suggest that the program is an efficient and cost effective alternate way of policing with direct effects on crime and students’ attendance. Exploiting both spatial and temporal variation in the implementation of the program, we find that the presence of civilian guards result in lower levels of crime, with violent crime declining by 14% on average. The rate of absenteeism is estimated to decline by 2.5 percentage points. We find no evidence of spillovers of crime to areas that are not along the Safe Passage routes. The third chapter titled “Fair Market Rent and the Distribution of Rents in Los Angeles” is joint work with Daniel McMillen. This chapter analyzes the effect of the fair market rent (FMR) on the distribution of apartment rents in Los Angeles for 2006-2015. We use a unique data set, which includes the results of semi-annual surveys of rents in Los Angeles. The surveys include information on location, characteristics of the property, and a rating of the overall quality of the building exterior. Histograms suggest there is a tendency for rents to cluster around the FMR, particularly for small (studio and 1 bedroom) units. Next, we estimate a model explaining the probability that the rent charged for a unit lies in a series of intervals, including the regions just below and just above the FMR. The estimates also suggest that the probability that the rent is in the region just above the FMR is significantly higher than would be expected given the underlying characteristics of the properties. An analysis of changes in rents over time suggests that this tendency for rents to cluster in the region just above the FMR is persistent for individual properties over time.
Issue Date:2017-07-10
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/98263
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Ruchi Singh
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08


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