Research

<Working Papers>

  • “Crabgrass Frontier Revisited in New York: Through the Lens of 21st-century Data”, Job Market Paper
    • [Abstract] Jackson’s famous Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (1985) argues that when American cities suburbanized in the early nineteenth century, the richest households moved from the core to the periphery, the poorest stayed in the core, and the households that moved to the periphery were richer than those who were there before them. I study the gradual process of prewar suburbanization in America’s biggest city, New York City, between 1870 and 1940. During this time there were huge transportation infrastructure improvements at both intra- and inter-city level, and there was gradual suburbanization, just as in Jackson (1985). I construct a historical longitudinal database that follows individuals to analyze how the migration patterns differ across workers with different income (skills). Rich people on average did not leave the core and poor people on average did not stay. New suburbanites to the city periphery were not richer than the people who already lived at the periphery. Jackson’s fundamental claim about the growth of high income at the edge relative to the center still holds true for my study period. However, I show the mechanism behind this change and show that this relative change in income growth at the edge did not result from a simple shuffling of rich and poor. Up until the Great Depression, flows of migrants from and to outside the metropolitan area were the dominant force in changing average income. Richer people from outside NYC metropolitan area migrated to the periphery and poorer people from outside NYC metropolitan migrated to the core. The people from the city core who left the metropolitan area were far richer than the people from the periphery who left the metropolitan area. Furthermore, people who stayed at the periphery got richer as the metropolis grew. Many readers have interpreted Crabgrass Frontier as the story of America’s suburbanization always and everywhere, and so my finding that two of the major propositions in that book and the mechanism behind income growth at the edge do not apply to 1870-1940 New York has implications beyond local history.
  • “European Immigrants and the United States’s Rise to the Technological Frontier”, with Costas Arkolakis, Michael Peters
  • “American Intergenerational Mobility in History and Space”, with Costas Arkolakis, Rodrigo Adao
  • Details of the National Science Foundation grant, joint with Costas Arkolakis and Michael Peters (RIDIR: A Big Data Approach to Understanding American Growth) are available here: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1831524&HistoricalAwards=false
  • Details of  National Science Foundation (Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: Urban Transit Infrastructure and the Growth of Cities) are available here: https://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1658827&HistoricalAwards=false
  • My research was covered in Columbia Economics Magazine. You can download the full version here: http://econ.columbia.edu/files/econ/content/documents/columbia_economics_fall_2017_web.pdf