Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Applied Economics

First Advisor

Fernando Ferreira


This dissertation examines how housing and location choice decisions contribute to spatial and social inequality. The first chapter studies the financial burdens of property taxes on homeowners. Exploiting a reform in Philadelphia that generated changes in property taxes without changing the provision of public goods and services, I measure how sensitive homeowners are to increases in their property tax bills. I find that a $100 increase in property taxes increases property tax delinquency by 3.9% after one year and 7.7% after two years. Home sales also increase by 4.1% after two years. There is no effect on house prices. Further, the financial burdens of property taxes vary considerably by owner race and occupancy status. White owners are more likely to recover from delinquency and sell their homes than Black and minority owners. Owners who live in their houses are also more likely to sell than landlords. The second chapter studies how the time spent commuting to work have evolved over the last four decades for White and Black commuters. In 1980, Black commuters spent 50.3 more minutes commuting per week than White commuters; by 2019, that difference declined to 22.4 minutes. Two factors account for the majority of this decline: Black workers are more likely to commute by transit, and Black workers make up a larger share of the population in cities with long average commutes. Increases in car commuting by Black workers account for nearly one quarter of the decline in the racialized difference in commute times between 1980 and 2019. Today, commute times have mostly converged (conditional on observables) for car commuters in small- and mid-sized cities. However, persistent differences in commute times still remain today in large, segregated, congested, and---especially---expensive cities, revealing the limits of cars in overcoming entrenched racialization of other factors of commuting.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Economics Commons