Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn
University of Southern California | USC · Department of Economics

Doctor of Philosophy

About

251
Publications
85,101
Reads
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Introduction
Urban and environmental economics. Go to mek1966.googlepages.com to find my cv. Go to twitter @mattkahn1966.
Education
October 1988 - August 1993
University of Chicago
Field of study
  • Economics

Publications

Publications (251)
Article
The surprise economic shutdown due to COVID-19 caused a sharp improvement in urban air quality in many previously heavily polluted Chinese cities. If clean air is a valued experience good, then this short-term reduction in pollution in spring 2020 could have persistent medium-term effects on reducing urban pollution levels as cities adopt new “blue...
Article
Using the government-sponsored enterprises’ sharp securitization rules, this paper provides evidence that, in the aftermath of natural disasters, lenders are more likely to approve mortgages that can be securitized, thereby transferring climate risk. The identification strategy uses the time-varying conforming loan limits above which the government...
Article
We study the long-term impact of climate change on economic activity across countries, using a stochastic growth model where productivity is affected by deviations of temperature and precipitation from their long-term moving average historical norms. Using a panel data set of 174 countries over the years 1960 to 2014, we find that per-capita real o...
Article
Full-text available
Using spatially disaggregated daily crime data for the City of Los Angeles, this paper estimates the impact of ambient temperature on crime, and how this relationship varies across neighborhoods. Our estimates suggest that, relative to cooler days, overall crime rates are 1.72% and 1.90% higher when daily maximum temperature exceeds 75 and 90 degre...
Article
In China, local governments often build “new towns” far from the city center but close to new high-speed rail (HSR) stations. While some HSR new towns experience economic growth, others have been vacant for years and become “ghost cities.” This study explores the determinants of this heterogeneity. Using satellite imagery and online archives of gov...
Preprint
Full-text available
This e-book contains my lecture notes on environmental and urban economics. I use this as my textbook when I teach undergraduates. My lecture slides are available at mek1966.googlepages.com.
Book
A revelatory study of how climate change will affect individual economic decisions, and the broad impact of those choices Selected by Publishers Weekly as one of its Top Ten books in Business and Economics for Spring 2021 It is all but certain that the next century will be hotter than any we've experienced before. Even if we get serious about fight...
Article
There is renewed interest in housing policy, but the role of local political factors has been understudied. Local elected officials—particularly city council members elected to represent specific geographic areas—are expected to exercise considerable discretion over development in their districts. This paper examines the influence of council distri...
Article
This paper surveys the recent literature exploring the consequences of urban pollution in the developing world for a city's productivity and resident quality of life. The environmental Kuznets curve literature predicts that developing nations will experience significant environmental degradation as a byproduct of economic development. In contrast,...
Article
The COVID-19 public health emergency caused widespread economic shutdown and unemployment. The resulting surge in Unemployment Insurance claims threatened to overwhelm the legacy systems state workforce agencies rely on to collect, process, and pay claims. In Rhode Island, we developed a scalable cloud solution to collect Pandemic Unemployment Assi...
Article
Over a period of more than three decades, the Chinese government has created more than 1,400 new industrial parks, which have played a key role in creating manufacturing jobs and in attracting foreign direct investment, both nationally and locally. Provincial leaders who choose the location of such parks have political career incentives to select s...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Heart failure (HF) patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) represent an important cohort. They are at increased risk of hospitalization and mortality. We outline how remote-only management strategies, which leverage transmitted health-related data, can be used to optimize care for HF patients with a CIED during the...
Article
Full-text available
China’s urbanites continue to be exposed to high levels of air pollution. Such pollution exposure raises mortality risk, lowers the day-to-day sentiment of the population and lowers outdoor worker productivity. Using a unique set of data for Chinese judges, we document that local air pollution also lowers the productivity of high skilled government...
Preprint
Key Insights●The COVID-19 public health emergency caused widespread economic shutdown. The resulting surge in unemployment and Unemployment Insurance benefits claims threatened to overwhelm the legacy systems state workforce agencies rely on to collect, process, and pay claims.●In the State of Rhode Island, we developed a scalable cloud solution to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Hundreds of thousands of poor people live in a handful of poor cities including Baltimore and Detroit. These poor residents face daily quality of life challenges associated with life stress, health shocks and exposure to crime. Climate change poses new risks for this group. Poor people who live in poor cities are disproportionately exposed to this...
Article
More than 100 natural disasters strike the United States every year, causing extensive fatalities and damages. We construct the universe of US federally designated natural disasters from 1920 to 2010. We find that severe disasters increase out-migration rates at the county level by 1.5 percentage points and lower housing prices/rents by 2.5–5.0 per...
Article
The share of U.S electricity generated by coal has fallen from nearly 50% to 33%. This transition offers social environmental benefits but spatially concentrated costs as coal miners and their local communities have suffered. Coal states have responded to shifting demand conditions by introducing incentives for local power plants to purchase coal f...
Article
High skilled workers gain from face to face interactions. If the skilled can move at higher speeds, then knowledge diffusion and idea spillovers are more likely to reach greater distances. This paper measures the knowledge creation consequences associated with the construction of China's high speed rail (HSR) network that connects mega cities, that...
Research
Full-text available
We use several micro administrative data sets to study the empirical distribution of public sector pay in Baltimore, Boston and New York City
Article
We study the long-term impact of climate change on economic activity across countries, using a stochastic growth model where labor productivity is affected by country-specific climate variables—defined as deviations of temperature and precipitation from their historical norms. Using a panel data set of 174 countries over the years 1960 to 2014, we...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cities and their neighborhoods differ along a large number of dimensions ranging from climate to street safety and clean air. The urban quality of life literature uses revealed preference methods for ranking locations with respect to these specific attributes. This approach yields estimates of the implicit price we pay for consuming more local amen...
Article
Customers who adopt solar panels can reduce their energy bills and lower the effective average electricity prices they pay. When the price falls, a solar consumer might consume more electricity than before – a solar rebound effect. We provide the first empirical evidence of residential solar rebound effects in the U.S. We use household level hourly...
Article
Cities offer a large menu of possible employment and leisure opportunities. The gains from such consumer city leisure are likely to be lower on more polluted days. We study the association between daily consumption activity and outdoor air pollution in China and find evidence in favor of the hypothesis that clean air and leaving one's home for leis...
Article
Full-text available
High levels of air pollution in China may contribute to the urban population’s reported low level of happiness1–3. To test this claim, we have constructed a daily city-level expressed happiness metric based on the sentiment in the contents of 210 million geotagged tweets on the Chinese largest microblog platform Sina Weibo4–6, and studied its dynam...
Article
Credible estimates of energy savings from green buildings are critical for policy makers to examine the cost and benefit of various incentives intended to encourage commercial buildings to go green (e.g. expedited construction permits, government grants, and property tax incentives). Yet, data limitations have hindered reliable estimations. Filling...
Article
Markets, especially land markets, can facilitate climate change adaptation through price signals. A review of research reveals that urban, coastal, and agricultural land markets provide effective signals of the emerging costs of climate change. These signals encourage adjustments by both private owners and policy officials in taking preemptive acti...
Article
Full-text available
Reducing electricity consumption through green building certification is one key strategy for achieving environmental sustainability. Traditional assessments of the environmental benefits of green buildings rely on electricity consumption data at an aggregated level (such as monthly). Using such data can bias assessment results because marginal emi...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper presents a set of new microeconomics problems that use the tools of Price Theory to explore interesting policy relevant topics.
Article
Full-text available
Through the rise of global commodity chains, consumer demand in China and the USA has given rise to the extraction of natural resources in the Congo Basin. The Chinese market for high‐valued animal products such as elephant ivory and pangolin scales has encouraged poaching, exploitation and trafficking of these goods in Africa. Chinese demand for o...
Article
Urban rail transit investments are expensive and irreversible. Since people differ with respect to their demand for trips, their value of time, and the types of real estate they live in, such projects are likely to offer heterogeneous benefits to residents of a city. Defining the opening of a major new subway in Seoul as a treatment for apartments...
Article
Climate change will increase the risk of temperature extremes. Induced innovation could offset some of this threat. This paper explores the demand and supply for climate adaptation innovation in a market economy. Such innovation attenuates the past relationship between the population death rate and extreme heat. Climate change induces this innovati...
Article
Full-text available
We describe the publicly available data created by the NIA funded Early Indicators program project, often referred to as the Union Army data, and the subset of these data used in “Persistent Social Networks: Civil War Veterans Who Fought Together Co-Locate in Later Life” (Costa et al., Forthcoming) [1]. This data subset can be used for reproducibil...
Article
We demonstrate the long reach of early social ties in the location decision of individuals and in their older age mortality risk using data on Union Army veterans of the US Civil War (1861-5). We estimate discrete choice migration models to quantify the trade-offs across locations faced by veterans. Veterans were more likely to move to a neighborho...
Article
Local governments spend roughly $1.6 trillion per year to provide a variety of public services ranging from police and fire protection to public schools and public transit. However, we know little about public sector's productivity in delivering key services. Public bus service represents a standardized output for benchmarking the cost of local gov...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change could significantly reduce the quality of life for poor people in Asia. Extreme heat and drought, and the increased incidence of natural disasters will pose new challenges for the urban poor and rural farmers. If farming profits decline, urbanization rates will accelerate and the social costs of rapid urbanization could increase due...
Article
Over the last 30 years, China's economy has boomed. This trend has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty but it has also sharply increased local, regional, and global pollution levels. We look at the rise in air pollution over recent decades, and the perhaps surprising finding that in many of China's urban areas, levels of particula...
Article
Full-text available
In the late 19th century, cities in Western Europe and the USA suffered from high levels of infectious disease. Over a 40-year period, there was a dramatic decline in infectious disease deaths in cities. As such objective progress in urban quality of life took place, how did the media report this trend? At that time, newspapers were the major sourc...
Article
Urban China's high level of ambient air pollution lowers quality of life and raises mortality risk. China's wealthy can purchase private products such as portable room air filters that offset some of their pollution exposure risk. Using a unique data set of Internet purchases, we document that households invest more in masks and air filter products...
Article
The durability of the real estate capital stock could hinder climate change adaptation because past construction anchors the population in beautiful and productive but increasingly-risky coastal areas. But, coastal developers anticipate that their assets face increasing risk and this creates an incentive to seek adaptation strategies. This paper mo...
Article
Urban rail transit investments are expensive and irreversible. Since people differ with respect to their demand for trips, their value of time, and the types of real estate they live in, such projects are likely to offer heterogeneous benefits to residents of a city. Using the opening of a major new subway in Seoul, we contrast hedonic estimates ba...
Article
Rising greenhouse gas emissions raise the risk of severe climate change. The household sector's greenhouse gas emissions have increased over time as more people drive gasoline cars and consume electricity generated using coal and natural gas. The household sector's emissions would decline if more households drove electric vehicles and owned solar p...
Article
China’s urban housing market dynamics suggest that evolving investor confidence may be a relevant demand shifter. Such investors are continually updating their beliefs about the state of the macro economy and the policy uncertainty related to national and local housing policies. We build a 35 Chinese city real estate confidence index that varies ov...
Book
Over the last thirty years, even as China's economy has grown by leaps and bounds, the environmental quality of its urban centers has precipitously declined due to heavy industrial output and coal consumption. The country is currently the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter and several of the most polluted cities in the world are in China. Yet,...
Article
Full-text available
The December 2015 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings in Paris are likely to yield a global agreement that will slow the world’s growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but this agreement is unlikely to guarantee a decline in global emissions in the near future. Given this reality, clima...
Article
California’s per-capita electricity consumption is 50 percent lower than national per-capita consumption. Mild climate, deindustrialization, and its demographics explain part of this differential. California energy efficiency policy is often claimed to be another key factor. A challenge in judging this claim is the heterogeneity of the real estate...
Article
Local governments spend roughly $1.6 trillion per year to provide a variety of public services ranging from police and fire protection to public schools and public transit. However, we know little about public sector’s productivity in delivering key services. To understand the productivity both over time and across space, we examine public bus serv...
Article
China's government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in new industrial parks with the intent of boosting the productivity of new firms attracted to the parks and to generate spillovers for the local economy in order to accelerate economic growth. Do such place based investments in capital raise urban productivity or is this anothe...
Article
This chapter surveys recent literature examining the relationship between environmental amenities and urban growth. In this survey, we focus on the role of both exogenous attributes such as climate and coastal access and endogenous attributes such as local air pollution and green space. A city's greenness is a function of its natural beauty and is...
Article
Hotel chains have access to a treasure trove of “big data” on individual hotels’ monthly electricity and water consumption. Benchmarked comparisons of hotels within a specific chain create the opportunity to cost-effectively improve the environmental performance of specific hotels. This paper describes a simple approach for using such data to achie...
Article
Full-text available
At political boundaries, local leaders have weak incentives to reduce polluting activity because the social costs are borne by downstream neighbors. This paper exploits a natural experiment set in China in which the central government changed the local political promotion criteria and thus incentivized local officials to reduce border pollution alo...
Article
Full-text available
How does economic science inform the study of sustainable development? In his new book, Jeffrey D. Sachs analyzes the challenges of achieving economic growth while protecting the environment and achieving an equitable distribution of resources. This review presents an overview of this ambitious book with special emphasis on the role of the objectiv...
Article
In metropolitan areas with a vibrant center city, residents are more likely to live downtown, spend more time downtown and use public transit more. Due to these factors, we posit that household carbon emissions from the transportation sector will be lower in metropolitan areas with more vibrant center cities. We use metro-level and household-level...
Research
Full-text available
Several Chinese cities have invested billions of dollars to construct new industrial parks. These place based investments solve the land assembly problem which allows many productive firms to co-locate close to each other. The resulting local economic growth creates new opportunities for real estate developers and retailers that develop properties...
Article
In an urbanizing world economy featuring thousands of cities, households and firms have strong incentives to make locational investments and self protection choices to reduce their exposure to new climate change induced risks. This pursuit of self interest reduces the costs imposed by climate change. This paper develops a dynamic compensating diffe...
Article
In recent years, Californians have voted on two key pieces of low carbon regulation. One introduces a carbon cap-and-trade market and the other creates a plan to build a high-speed rail system connecting the state’s major cities. This provides an opportunity to examine the demand for carbon mitigation efforts. Household voting patterns are found to...
Article
In the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, large cities had extremely high death rates from infectious disease. Within major cities such as New York City and Philadelphia, there was significant variation at any point in time in the mortality rate across neighborhoods. Between 1900 and 1930 neighborhood mortality convergence took...
Article
The U.S. public transit system represents a multi-billion dollar industry that provides essential transit services to millions of urban residents. We study the market for new transit buses that features a set of non-profit transit agencies purchasing buses primarily from a few domestic bus makers. In contrast with private passenger vehicles, the fu...
Article
There is no such thing as a "free lunch" in the energy sector, which means we face tough choices when it comes to power. But how do we weigh our options? Matthew E. Kahn considers how we make decisions about energy in the 21st century in a review of Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think About Energy in the Age of Global Warming .
Article
In today’s digital age, the online public domain, particularly social networking websites, is the new frontier for the battle between censors and dissidents. This paper examines linguistic trends in the ways in which Chinese web users exploit Chinese phonology, morphology, and orthography to avoid notice by online censors through the lenses of prag...
Chapter
This chapter tackles two growing concerns—environmental sustainability and rapid urbanization. Asia is home to almost half of the global urban population and is urbanizing at a pace faster than any other region, resulting in an unprecedented growth in the number of urban residents and increased number of densely populated megacities. Consequently,...
Article
Full-text available
Commercial buildings play a major role in determining U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, yet surprisingly little is known about the environmental performance of different buildings at a point in time or how the same buildings perform over time. By exploiting a unique panel of commercial buildings from a major electric utility, we study the association...
Article
Full-text available
Within an open system of cities, compensating differentials theory predicts that local real estate prices will be higher in cities with higher quality non-market local public goods. In this case, more polluted cities will feature lower home prices. A city’s air pollution levels depend on economic activity within the city and on cross-border polluti...
Article
China's rapid economic growth has been fueled by industrialization and urbanization. Given its export focus, this industrialization was spatially concentrated in the coastal eastern cities. Over the last decade, a spatial transformation has taken place leading to a deindustrialization of the rich coastal cities and sharp industrial growth in the in...
Article
The U.S. public transit system represents a multi-billion dollar industry that provides essential transit services to millions of urban residents. We study the market for new transit buses that features a set of non-profit transit agencies purchasing buses primarily from a few domestic bus makers. In contrast with private passenger vehicles, the fu...
Article
China's ongoing urban economic growth has sharply increased the population's per capita income, lowered the count of people living below the poverty line, and caused major environmental problems. We survey the growing literature investigating the causes and consequences of China's urban pollution challenges. We begin by studying how urban populatio...
Article
The environmental benefits from generating electricity using renewable power are well known. Both wind farms and large scale solar installations require significant amounts of land to generate such power. Private land holders gain from leasing and selling land to renewable power generators but how are nearby neighbors and county residents affected?...
Article
Manufacturing industries differ with respect to their energy intensity, labor-to-capital ratio and their pollution intensity. Across the United States, there is significant variation in electricity prices and labor and environmental regulation. This paper examines whether the basic logic of comparative advantage can explain the geographical cluster...
Article
Using a unique data set that merges an electric utility’s residential customer monthly electricity consumption in 2008 with household level data on demographics, structure and neighborhood characteristics and the political party of registration for the head of household, this paper documents that liberal households consume less electricity than obs...