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Empirical essays on real estate, local public goods and happiness: evidence from Beijing

Wu, Wenjie (2012) Empirical essays on real estate, local public goods and happiness: evidence from Beijing. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores the real estate and happiness consequences of public investment in local public goods improvements by using unique micro-geographical data from Beijing; it focuses on the spatial variations in park amenity values, and on the impact of transport improvements on land prices and homeowners’ happiness. Despite intense public interest, little is known about these effects. This thesis aims to fill these gaps. First, I explore the impact and sources of variations of park proximities as capitalized into the residential land prices. This analysis, using geographically-coded data from Beijing, provides new insights on the ways in which land markets capitalize the values of proximity to parks and suggests that this is highly dependent on the parcel’s location and local contextual characteristics. Next, I examine the real estate consequence of public investment in transport improvements using a rich data set of vacant land parcels in Beijing. I use a multiple intervention difference-in-difference method to document opening and planning effects of new rail stations on prices for different land uses in affected areas versus unaffected areas. Residential and commercial land parcels receiving increased station proximity experience appreciable price premiums, but the relative importance of such benefits varies greatly over space and local demographics. Finally, I investigate the impact of transport improvements on happiness that altered the residence-station distance for some homeowners, but left others unaffected. My estimation strategy takes advantage of micro happiness surveys conducted before-and-after the building of new rail stations in 2008 Beijing. I deal with the potential concern about the endogeneity in sorting effects by focusing on “stayers”and using non-market housings with pre-determined locations. I find the significantly heterogeneity in the effects from better rail access on homeowners’ happiness with respect to different dimensions of residential environment. The welfare analysis results suggest strong social-spatial differentiations. In combination, the three papers of this thesis make important contributions to a growing literature on public infrastructure, land market and happiness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Wenjie Wu
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Gibbons, Stephen and Cheshire, Paul

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