This paper offers a novel explanation for urban blight and endogenous divergence in the overall quality and wealth of neighborhoods and simultaneously derives the salient features of actual urban renewal and other aid programs from optimizing government behavior based on collective public preferences. These features appear when the objective of such public aid programs is to restore the ex ante distribution of wealth or property values within a blighted neighborhood, while equilibria exhibiting deficient levels of private investment and blight itself can arise when residents accurately anticipate the potential provision of public aid to an affected neighborhood and ex ante investment in private insurance diminishes neighborhood eligibility for such aid. Examples of antipodal equilibria in which urban renewal programs entirely crowd out local private investment or in which neighborhood residents invest in efficient levels of private mitigation illustrate these results, which stand in direct contrast to both traditional explanations of urban blight and to the new “social-interaction” models of neighborhood divergence.
The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 2006
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