Victor Couture

University of California, Berkeley
Haas School of Business
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-1900

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of California at Berkeley

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2019Income Growth and the Distributional Effects of Urban Spatial Sorting
with Cecile Gaubert, Jessie Handbury, Erik Hurst: w26142
We explore the impact of rising incomes at the top of the distribution on spatial sorting patterns within large U.S. cities. We develop and quantify a spatial model of a city with heterogeneous agents and non-homothetic preferences for neighborhoods with endogenous amenity quality. As the rich get richer, demand increases for the high quality amenities available in downtown neighborhoods. Rising demand drives up house prices and spurs the development of higher quality neighborhoods downtown. This gentrification of downtowns makes poor incumbents worse off, as they are either displaced to the suburbs or pay higher rents for amenities that they do not value as much. We quantify the corresponding impact on well-being inequality. Through the lens of the quantified model, the change in the inco...
November 2018Mobility and Congestion in Urban India
with Prottoy A. Akbar, Gilles Duranton, Adam Storeygard: w25218
We develop a methodology to estimate robust city level vehicular mobility indices, and apply it to 154 Indian cities using 22 million counterfactual trips measured by a web mapping service. There is wide variation in mobility across cities. An exact decomposition shows this variation is driven more by differences in uncongested mobility than congestion. Under plausible assumptions, a one standard deviation improvement in uncongested speed creates much more mobility than optimal congestion pricing. Denser and more populated cities are slower, only in part because of congestion. Urban economic development is correlated with better (uncongested and overall) mobility despite worse congestion.
March 2018Connecting the Countryside via E-Commerce: Evidence from China
with Benjamin Faber, Yizhen Gu, Lizhi Liu: w24384
This paper estimates the impact of the first nation-wide e-commerce expansion program on rural households. To do so, we combine a randomized control trial with new survey and administrative microdata. In contrast to existing case studies, we find little evidence for income gains to rural producers and workers. Instead, the gains are driven by a reduction in cost of living for a minority of rural households who tend to be younger, richer and in more remote markets. These effects are mainly due to overcoming logistical barriers to e-commerce, rather than to additional investments to adapt e-commerce to the rural population.
November 2017Urban Revival in America, 2000 to 2010
with Jessie Handbury: w24084
This paper documents and explains the striking rise in the proclivity of college-educated individuals to reside near city centers since 2000. We show that this recent urban revival is driven almost entirely by younger college graduates in larger cities. With a residential choice model, we quantify the role of jobs, amenities, and house prices in explaining this trend. We find that the rising taste of young college graduates for non-tradable service amenities like restaurants and nightlife accounts for more than 40 percent of their movement toward city centers. Complementary data shows a corresponding rise in young college graduate expenditures on and trips to non-tradable services. We then link changes in both consumption and urbanization to secular trends of top income growth and delayed ...
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