Essays on city size distribution and real estate bubbles

John Paul Lucas, Florida International University


This is a dissertation about urban systems; within this broad subject I tackle three issues, one that focuses on an observed inter-city relationship and two that focus on an intra-city phenomenon. In Chapter II I adapt a model of random emergence of economic opportunities from the firm growth literature to the urban dynamics situation and present several predictions for urban system dynamics. One of these predictions is that the older the city the larger and more diversified it is going to be on average, which I proceed to verify empirically using two distinct datasets. In Chapter III I analyze the Residential Real Estate Bubble that took place in Miami-Dade County from 1999 to 2006. I adopt a Spatial-Economic model developed for the Paris Bubble episode of 1984–1993 and formulate an innovative test of the results in terms of speculative intensity on the basis of proxies of investor activity available in my dataset. My results support the idea that the best or more expensive areas are also where the greatest speculative activity takes place and where the rapid increase in prices begins. The most significant departure from previous studies that emerges in my results is the absence of a wider gap between high priced areas and low priced areas in the peak year. I develop a measure of dispersion in value among areas and contrast the Miami-Dade and Paris episodes. In Chapter IV I analyze the impact on tax equity of a Florida tax-limiting legislation known as Save Our Homes. I first compare homesteaded and non-homesteaded properties, and second, look within the subset of homesteaded properties. I find that non-homesteaded properties increase their share of taxes paid relative to homesteaded properties during an up market, but that this is reversed during a down market. For the subset of homesteaded properties I find that the impact on tax equity of SOH will depend on differential growth rates among higher and lower valued homes, but during times of rapid home price appreciation, in a scenario of no differential growth rates in property values, SOH increases progressivity relative to the prior system.

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Recommended Citation

Lucas, John Paul, "Essays on city size distribution and real estate bubbles" (2012). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3517022.