Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Paul W Wilson
My dissertation focuses on issues related to the resiliency of urban infrastructure and public systems. In the first chapter, I examine the effect of the financial condition of local governments on housing values and depreciation of the U.S. housing stock. Housing values bear the burden of municipal fiscal stress reflecting prospective and current homeowners reduced willingness-to-pay for housing. Using panel data from the American Housing Survey from 1984 to 2011, I estimate linear, quantile, and semiparametric varying coefficient (VC) models to examine these effects. The findings from the linear and quantile estimation are compared to the estimation of the VC models, which allow for a nonparametric, smoothed specification of building age.
The results suggest that aspects of municipal solvency have differential effects across the distribution of housing values and building age. New, lower priced houses see the largest increases in housing values from larger cash and long-run solvency ratios, which reflect greater spending on infrastructure and other long-run capital investment projects, whereas older, lower priced houses benefit from increases in service-level solvency, suggestive of greater spending on public amenities. Moreover, the results indicate that the housing stock depreciates more slowly in municipalities with larger values of revenue and expenditure per capita, with implied annual depreciation rates ranging from over 0.4 to 0.7 percent.
The second chapter examines the performance of U.S. municipal governments prior to, during, and following the financial crisis over the period 1997--2012. Fully nonparametric methods are employed to estimate technical efficiencies of cities, both over time and by U.S. Census Region, utilizing recently-developed statistical results. The results strongly suggest non-convexity of the local governments' production set, calling into question the results of previous studies examining municipal efficiency. Furthermore, the results suggest that mean efficiency and productivity declined in several U.S. regions during the financial crisis, and in some instances have not returned to their pre-crisis level.
Finally, in the third chapter, I look at the impact of a regulation change in San Francisco restricting owner move-in (OMI) evictions. In the 1990s, San Francisco saw a large number of OMI evictions, a no-fault eviction frequently used by landlords to remove units from the rent-controlled market. To prevent landlords from further exploiting the use of OMI evictions, San Francisco passed Proposition G in 1998. This regulation imposed higher costs on landlords utilizing this eviction type by restricting the usage of OMI evictions in San Francisco rent-controlled buildings. My identification strategy is supported by the use of a stochastic rent frontier which allows me to obtain a measure of housing quality that is a linear function of observables, thereby capturing the causal impact of the regulation on housing quality and allowing me to observe trends in tenant filtering.
Using household-level renter data from the American Housing Survey, my results indicate that following Proposition G, rent-controlled units in San Francisco saw lower housing quality. Additionally, I find that this result holds even after controlling for the presence of an on-site building owner. These findings are likely driven by lower levels of building maintenance and upkeep, reflecting the higher costs resulting from Proposition G. These findings suggest that while this regulation intended to preserve the stock of controlled housing in San Francisco, it resulted in several unintended consequences.
O'Loughlin, Caitlin, "Three Essays on the Resiliency of Urban Infrastructure and Public Systems" (2020). All Dissertations. 2581.