Location Sorting and Endogenous Amenities: Evidence from Amsterdam

This paper argues that the endogeneity of amenities plays a crucial role in the welfare distribution of a city’s residents by reinforcing location sorting. We quantify this channel by leveraging spatial variation in tourism flows and the entry of home-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb, as shifters of location characteristics to estimate a dynamic model of residential choice. In our model, consumption amenities in each location are the equilibrium outcome of a market for services, which are supplied by firms and demanded by heterogeneous households. We estimate the model using detailed Dutch microdata, which allows us to track the universe of Amsterdam’s residents over time and the evolution of a rich set of neighborhood amenities. Our results indicate significant heterogeneity across households in their valuation of different amenities, as well as in the response of amenities to demographic composition. We show that allowing for this endogenous response increases inequality between demographic groups whose preferences are closely aligned, but decreases it if substantially misaligned, suggesting heterogeneity in the two-way mapping between households and amenities plays a crucial distributive role. Finally, we highlight the distributional implications of our estimates by evaluating currently debated policies, such as price and quantity regulations in housing markets.

Link to paper: m-almagro.github.io/Location_Sorting.pdf

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