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2016-17 Lusk Research Awards

This year’s Lusk Research Awards support research projects by USC faculty and PhD candidates. These research projects help support the mission of the Lusk Center, which is to advance real estate knowledge, inform business practice, and address timely issues that affect the real estate industry, the urban economy, and public policy.

Award Winners


Jefferey Sellers, Department of Political Science, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Drivers and Consequences of Housing Development in Urbanizing India 

One of the major social scientific challenges of the twenty-first century lies in understanding and managing the rapid urbanization that is now underway in the developing world. This project develops and applies tools based on remote sensing to describe and analyze the new markets for housing that have emerged in rapidly developing regions outside big cities in India. The analyses focuses on two growing regions where foreign investment has played a prominent role in peri-urban markets for land and housing markets (Bangalore and Pune) and two where it has not (Bhopal and Coimbatore). Following classification of new housing based on high resolution remote sensing images, prices and other property market data, an initial analysis will compare the geographic distribution of different types of housing in these regions. An analysis using the same classifications in intertemporal satellite images from the 1990s to the present will analyze how and why these patterns of residential construction emerged. These analyses will yield new insights into the emerging patterns of peri-urban settlement in India and other developing nations, and a refined understanding of the influences that have brought about those patterns. The project will also generate a set of analytical tools with potential applications to similar settings in other developing regions.

Jorge De La Roca, Sol Price School of Public Policy

The long-term effects of gridding urban expansion in developing countries: The case of Lima squatter invasions

Fast urbanization is perhaps one of the main challenges that many developing countries will face in this century. The amount of land required for this urban expansion exceeds any plausible estimation that local authorities in these countries are forecasting nowadays. Policy makers are faced with two simple alternatives given their tight budget constraints: allowing for a hands-off market-led urban expansion that ignores land needs for public spaces, or design- ing urban layouts that require minimal preparation at low cost to anticipate and guide free market decisions of land consumption and use on the urban fringe of their cities.

Recent studies find long-term effects of land demarcation in the United States whereby original grids help secure property rights and lead to higher land and property values and greater density. There is far less evidence for developing countries. In this project, we aim to start filling this gap by exploring whether there exist long-term effects of land demarcation on today’s real estate prices and land uses in former urban squatters in Lima, Peru. To this end, we expect to exploit boundary discontinuities in grid designation in order to compare today’s property prices in areas that were exposed to minimal planning intervention several decades ago to those that were not.

Annette Kim, Sol Price School of Public Policy

The Price of Crowding: Modeling the Rental Market for Overcrowded Housing in Shanghai

One coping strategy that lower-income people around the world, especially im(migrants), use to survive in major urban centers is to rent a bed in a crowded apartment. We propose to create and analyze original data about Shanghai’s crowded rental housing market, where our preliminary data shows an average of 24 people living in 3 bedrooms, with 8 beds in a room.

Our study will help lay groundwork for studying this sub-market through our novel dataset and modeling techniques. We have developed and tested a methodology for scraping data from the internet of this live market before the ads disappear within a few months time. Our data source provides us unique variables so that we will be able to price gender differentials in this housing market. Furthermore, we will develop metrics proposing how to frame this phenomenon: a pricing structure for the level of crowding in a bedroom.

Our findings will be valuable for informing housing policy debates that are currently seeking to monitor housing overcrowding. Previous studies have been primarily qualitative and focused on health impacts but have not studied the market and its revealed preference structures and pricing.

PH.D. Awards

Hyojung Lee, Price School of Public Policy

Three Essays on Housing and Urban Demography

The United States is experiencing a profound demographic shift. On the one hand, Baby Boomers are reaching the retirement age, and some consider downsizing their homes. On the other hand, the Millennial generation, the largest generation in U.S. history, have entered job and housing markets at the worst time in several decades. This unique moment in U.S. history, with two large generations leaving and entering labor and housing markets, provides an opportunity for analyzing the impact of demographic change. My dissertation, “Three Essays on Housing and Urban Demography,” examines linkages among demography, housing choices, and urban landscape. The first chapter of the dissertation, “Estimating the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina,” investigates the long-term legacy of Hurricane Katrina on housing and other outcomes of hurricane victims using a life-course approach. The second chapter, “Are Millennials Coming to Town? Patterns and Determinants of Residential Location Choice of Young Adults,” investigates geographic distribution and factors of residential location choice among young adults 18 to 34 years old, specifically in the context of how Millennials will reshape the future of urban landscapes. The third chapter “Did earlier access to homeownership under the G.I. Bills lead to better children’s outcomes?” examines the intergenerational links between parents and children through homeownership channel. The detailed descriptions of each chapter are shown below.