Centre for Economic Performance LSE RSS Email Blog Twitter

Abstract:

cover
SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper
Does Better Rail Access Improve Homeowners’ Happiness?: Evidence Based on Micro Surveys in Beijing
Wenjie Wu
April 2013
Paper No' SERCDP0134:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: D60; H41; R41


Tags: happiness; transport improvement; geographical information system; wellbeing; china

Development of urban transport infrastructures is a key policy focus---particularly in countries like China which have experienced fast urbanisation over the past decade. While existing studies provide marginal values for rail access on the real estate market, little is known about the consequences of local public goods improvements for homeowners’ subjective wellbeing using reported happiness data. This paper uses a difference-in-difference method to empirically measure the impact of rail access on homeowners’ happiness. My identification strategy takes advantage of micro happiness survey data conducted before-and-after the opening of new rail stations in 2008 Beijing. I deal with the potential concern about the endogeneity in sorting effects by focusing on “stayers” and using non-market (fang gai) housings with pre-determined locations. I find the significantly heterogeneity in the effects from better rail access on homeowners’ happiness with respect to different dimensions of residential environment. The welfare estimates suggest that better rail access provided substantial benefits to homeowners’ happiness, but these benefits have strong social-spatial differentiations. These findings add to the evidence that transport improvement has an important role to play in influencing local residents’ subjective wellbeing.