Blight in the Rural South: Proliferation, Remediation, and Ethical Claims (thesis)
Washington and Lee University -- Capstone in Shepherd Poverty Program
Buildings -- Standards
Mississippi River Region
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Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Thomas Willingham is a member of the Class of 2019 of Washington and Lee University.Across rural communities in the Southern United States, the proliferation of dilapidated structures which do not meet code enforcement standards (i.e. blight) has developed into a primary concern for many communities. Using data from the United States Census Bureau, MARIS, and the United States Geological Surves [Surveys], my analysis seeks to illuminate the causal impact of blight on economic and poverty-related outcomes. I employ an instrumental variables approach using proximity to a Mississippi River tributary, controlled by proximity to the Mississippi River itself, as an instrument. I observe a causal link between blight proliferation and poor economic and poverty-related outcomes. Additionally, I find that individuals of color are more likely to live among and be affected by blight proliferation. Moreover, using literature on the topic, I discover complex ethical implications regarding persistent out-migration.