East Side Story: Historical Pollution and Persistent Neighborhood Sortin
(takes place in SLS 5)

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 06.12.2016, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Stephan Heblich (University of Bristol)


Why are the East sides of former industrial cities like London or New York poorer and more deprived? We argue that this is the result of prevailing wind patterns causing higher concentrations of industrial pollution in the East side of these cities. To capture this empirically, we geolocate nearly 5,000 industrial chimneys in 70 English cities around the year 1880 and use an atmospheric dispersion model to predict where their smoke would have drifted. Individuallevel census data for 1881 show that pollution induced neighbourhood sorting with the working class population residing in the East. These equilibria persist to this day. Historical pollution patterns explain up to 20% of modern withincity deprivation even though the pollution that initially caused it has now waned. A quantitative model shows the role of non-linearities and tippinglike behaviors in such persistence.

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