Department of Economics pres.
Economic History: Freeway Revolts! The Quality of Life Eﬀects of Highways
Jeffrey Lin, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Why do freeways aﬀect the spatial organization of the economy? We identify freeway disameni-ties in urban areas and quantify their eﬀects. First, freeways had negative eﬀects on central neighborhoods but positive eﬀects on suburban neighborhoods. These diverging patterns iden-tify freeway disamenities in a theory where disamenities outweigh minimal access beneﬁts near downtown, but superior access beneﬁts outweigh disamenities on the periphery. Second, in a quantitative spatial general equilibrium model, the welfare costs of freeway disamenities are large, and one-third of the causal eﬀect of freeways on central-city decline can be attributed to quality of life eﬀects. Third, barrier eﬀects are signiﬁcant and a major factor in the dis-amenity value of living near a freeway. Disamenities from freeways, as opposed to their regional accessibility beneﬁts, had large eﬀects on the spatial structure of cities, suburbanization, and welfare.
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