Quantifying the Impacts of Suburbanization without Growth on Central City Housing Vacancy

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Growth and Change: A Journal of Urban and Regional Policy


Scholars have written descriptively about the relationship between suburbanization and central city decline. However, research has not produced systematic, quantitative estimates of the relationships between the components of suburbanization and vacancy—generally or amid urban decline. Such estimates are required to design effective policies that could protect against the social inequalities associated with such development patterns. This paper applies an economic framework of suburbanization and vacancy to 99 urbanized areas in the United States to estimate the impact on central city residential vacancy from 2013 to 2019. The results support the central hypothesis, that regional over-building contributes to central city vacancy, and that this impact is significantly magnified by the context of decline. Results show regional over-building causes central city vacancy in Shrinking Cities at 9.6 times the effect observed in other Principal Cities. Ameliorating factors vary between Shrinking and Non-Shrinking contexts.