Blight in the Rural South: Proliferation, Remediation, and Ethical Claims (thesis)
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.
Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Thomas Willingham is a member of the Class of 2019 of Washington and Lee University.