Working Paper, Socioeconomic Institute, University of Zurich 0710
Quality of life factors continue to gain importance in residential location decisions as well as location decisions of firms. One such factor is an attractive local landscape. The aim of this paper is to provide a survey of the empirical literature on the role of landscape amenities in local economic change. Following common amenity definitions, we define landscape amenities as landscape features that are location-specific, latent non-market input goods that directly enter residents' utility functions. Using this definition we identify thirty-nine relevant studies that use either migration or regional economic models or hedonic pricing techniques. One result from the analysis of migration and regional economic studies is that intra-country migrants were attracted by amenities about as frequently as by a low tax burden. Effects of amenities on employment and income are less well established. However, many of these studies used rather limited amenity variables. The results from hedonic studies show that a wide variety of local amenity attributes are partly capitalized in housing prices and that studies on a larger geographic scale are more likely to identify a significant a role of amenities. Newly available land cover datasets and spatial analysis tools have the potential to overcome important data limitations of many earlier studies. Future research may thus contribute to a better understanding of the role of landscape amenities in economic change and to a better coordination of regional and environmental policies.
landscape amenities migration local development hedonic models environmental valuation regional economic modeling land use