Introduction & interview by Matthew Wykoff
My name is Matthew Wykoff and I am a senior at FSU finishing my undergraduate degree in Economics. As a DMC researcher interested in Tallahassee’s local urban development, I interviewed Dr. Keith Ihlanfeldt about his recent paper, Impact of Rental Housing on Neighborhood Integration. Dr. Ihlanfeldt’s official title is DeVoe L. Moore Eminent Scholar Professor. He is an internationally recognized scholar in urban economics and regional science, with significant contributions to issues including housing segregation and job accessibility. I was a student of his in Urban Economics. Enjoyed his class because he brought social issues to light that I had not noticed before.
As a defensive end playing football at Illinois Wesleyan University, did you ever imagine yourself earning a Ph.D., being named a Fellow of the Regional Science Association, or being named the Halbert C. Smith Honorary Fellow for 2018 by the Homer Hoyt Institute?
Well, I was not the star of the team, but I was the best student on the team. I had an older brother who had a Ph.D, which encouraged me both to pursue economics and get the Ph.D.
What drove you to study urban and regional economics, local public finance, and labor economics?
It was pretty much just by chance. I was looking for a job when I was a graduate student and they had an opening at the Washington University Center for Urban and Regional Economic Research. I took the job and found the urban research interesting and have been doing it ever since.
What brought you to FSU?
The Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at the time was David Rasmussen, who I knew because we both got our degrees from Washington University. He knew of my research and invited me to come down for an interview. I hated the automobile congestion in Atlanta, so I took the FSU offer.
On His Recent Paper, Impact of Rental Housing on Neighborhood Integration
What sparked your exploration into problems of past and current racial and income segregation in the housing market?
I have long been interested in social justice issues and segregation creates all sorts of racial and social inequities. It is, perhaps, the worst thing about our metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Was your research question inspired by observations at the local level, national level, or a combination thereof?
Segregation is a national problem, although it is worse in the northeast and the Midwest cities.
Can you provide current examples of neighborhood segregation by race and class and how/why they occur?
You don’t need to look very far for an example. Tallahassee has a high level of racial segregation, along the south/north divide. Class segregation is even worse than our racial segregation, with Tallahassee in the top 10 of the worst cities. Why does segregation exist? Whites prefer not to live with blacks and discrimination works to keep blacks out of white neighborhoods. Regarding income segregation, higher-income neighborhoods try to keep low-income households from entering primarily by using minimum lot size zoning and placing restrictions on apartments and mobile homes.
You mention the effects of shifting a larger share of a district’s affordable housing areas in better schools. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this proposal, and what are the specific ramifications related to the effects of short-run and long-run results of white flight?
An increase in affordable housing within better neighborhoods is something minorities take advantage of because they want to get their children into better schools, just like everybody else. The risk is that as blacks come into the neighborhood, whites will flee taking the good schools with them. To keep the whites from leaving additional public services should be redirected to those places undergoing early integration.
What are the possible outcomes of racial integration into single-family homes?
Better outcomes for low income and minority families not only in the immediate future but also for their children as they grow up. Raj Chetty at Harvard has written many papers on this.
What can the general public take away from your research?
The substantial growth in single-family rentals since the housing crash (circa 2007) has increased racial integration within America’s neighborhoods. However, many neighborhoods are resisting this growth in rentals. In some cases, actually making rentals illegal. The policy implication is to try to reduce this opposition and further grow the single-family rental stock within high income and white neighborhoods.
Do you have any upcoming research projects that you are excited about it? If so, can you share a bit of detail about them?
Yes. I am working on a paper regarding property tax homestead exemptions; it is forthcoming.
To read more about Dr. Ihlanfeldt and his accomplishments, visit his web page, here: https://ihlanfeldt.com/recent-papers/