Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Kevin Tsui

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Fleck

Committee Member

Dr. Curtis Simon

Committee Member

Dr. Raymond Sauer


This dissertation encompasses three papers. My first paper contributes to the larger literature on the effect of individual-level characteristics on urban location choice by examining whether young people aged 25 - 34 with a bachelor's degree or higher are more likely to live in central cities in 2011 than in 1990. In 1990 37% of 25 - 34 year olds (Baby Boomers) living within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) lived in a central city. By 2011 the percentage of young people (Millennials) living in a MSA that lived in a central city had declined to 33%. However, when 25 - 34 year olds are segmented by education it is clear that this decline was driven by young people with less than a bachelor's degree. Conditional on living in a MSA the percentage of young people with a bachelor's or advanced degree that lived in a central city was approximately 36% in both 1990 and 2011. When I control for individual-level characteristics I find that the effect of education on the probability of living in a central city remains similar in both generations. I estimate that having a bachelor's degree increases the probability that a 25 - 34 year old will locate in a central city by 8.3% in 1990 and 8.2% in 2011. The increases in the probability of living in a central city from having a master's degree or a doctorate in 2011 are also similar in magnitude to their counterparts in 1990. This is evidence that to the extent education plays a role in the larger population of high human capital 25 - 34 year olds in cities it is due to a composition effect rather than cities becoming more attractive to educated people at the margin. While educated young people are not more attracted to cities across generations there have been some intertemporal regional changes. I also analyze individual cities in each region to demonstrate that the regional changes obscure city level heterogeneity. I find that in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Portland the effect of a bachelor's degree on living in the central city of those MSAs increased from 1990 to 2011. In the Houston MSA the effect of a bachelor's decreased and in the Los Angeles and Atlanta MSAs the effect of a master's decreased.



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