Department of Real Estate and Construction

REC Research Seminar – Revisiting Tieboutian Clubs

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On the occasion of the Charles Tiebout Centenary year, this work examines the evolution of Tieboutian clubs over time and across metropolitan regions. We address this topic by examining a large set of socioeconomic characteristics of metropolitan regions to assess empirically whether and how those member attributes may figure into a Tiebout sorting process. We do this for the Los Angeles metropolitan region using census data from 1970, 1990 and 2020; and we repeat the process for the twenty largest metropolitan regions in the United States for 2020. Several key results emerge from this analysis. Four factors are the most enduring fundamental aspects of the socioeconomic landscape in metropolitan regions in the United States; these pertain to economic class, race, age cohort and immigration status. The final question addressed by our work links back to the original motivation, which is to assess the role of municipalities in the formation of these clubs. We do so for the twenty largest metropolitan regions in the United States. The results from our analyses of variance are compelling. With very few exceptions we find that census tracts with similar club characteristics have a strong tendency to be co-located within the same municipalities. This strong result holds regardless of which metropolitan region we examined, or which decade. This affirms that municipalities are indeed Tieboutian clubs.


Eric Heikkila is a Professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy, and currently a Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  He is also President of the Western Regional Science Association and lead Guest Editor for a forthcoming special issue of the Annals of Regional Science to commemorate the centenary of Charles Tiebout.  Much of his current research explores the nexus between urban land use regulations and housing outcomes.

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2024-03-11 @ 11:00 AM to
2024-03-11 @ 12:00 PM

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