Postwar neighborhoods across the United States have declined in socioeconomic status over the past few decades. Over this same time period, the relative status of many of these neighborhoods has dipped below older neighborhoods. With the characteristics of postwar housing being arguably undesirable by current standards, extant literature claims the functional obsolescence of postwar housing is contributing to low and declining neighborhood socioeconomic status. What remains unclear is whether the effect observed is due to housing age—postwar housing is vulnerable to physical depreciation given its age—or if there is a true postwar vintage effect influencing neighborhood socioeconomic status beyond what age alone would predict. Using a panel model spanning 1990 to 2010, three main findings emerge. First, the presence of greater shares of postwar housing in neighborhoods is associated with a small but significant decrease in neighborhood status. Second, this effect varies across and within urban and suburban neighborhoods. Third, there exists substantial heterogeneity in the effect across metropolitan areas that differ by housing supply growth and price. Together, these results imply that policymakers should consider the negative effects of functional obsolescence on top of the ills associated with aging homes within certain spatial contexts.
Published in Urban Studies