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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2017 TOPIC AREA: Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

The Effects of Rail Stations on Neighborhood Displacement in Los Angeles County, 1993-2013

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-19-SP82
Funding source: California Community Foundation
Contract number: BA-17-137531
Total cost: $65,000
Performance period: 1/1/2017 to 6/30/2018

Project description

We examine the effect of rail transit on neighborhood displacement. To do so, we leverage the tax filing records of over 100 million households from Los Angeles County between 1993 and 2013, provided by the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). We look at the neighborhoods surrounding the 80 L.A. Metro rail stations opened since 1993, calculating these station areas' resident move-out rates for each year within our tax filing dataset.

We estimate changes in out-mobility rates in response to station opening for 80 rail stations by examining the change before and after train stations open and against control areas. The use of control areas enhances the robustness of our analysis.

We differentiate estimates of rail transit's effects on station areas' out-mobility rates by:

  1. Four income categories of households - < 30% of Area Median Income or AMI (Lowest Income), between 30 to 50% of AMI (Low Income), between 50 and 80% of AMI (Lower-Middle Income), and > 80% of AMI (Middle and Upper Income);
  2. Individual rail corridors - Red/Purple, Gold, Blue, Green, and Expo Phase I lines - as well as the entire L.A. Metro rail system; and
  3. Three different points in rail stations' development cycle: the announcement of a rail station being developed, the opening of that rail station, and five years after the opening of that station. We interpret statistically significant increases in a particular group's annual out-mobility rate, relative to the control group, to represent displacement.

We hypothesize that the presence of a rail station in a neighborhood displaces low-income residents from that neighborhood. If empirically confirmed, such a phenomenon could present a troubling complication to the potential equity benefits of introducing rail stations to previously "transit-poor" neighborhoods. We rationalize our hypothesis via the following conceptual framework:
  1. The introduction of rail stations to neighborhoods results in increased land and housing price values as well as the in-movement of higher-income individuals;
  2. This increases competition for station area housing between existing and prospective residents; and
  3. The heightened competition for a fixed supply of housing results in the displacement of existing, lower-income households, or increased out-mobility rates for lower-income households.


Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]


Raphael Bostic
Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall 201CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]

Seva Rodnyansky
Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy
1600 Campus Road
UEPI 203Los Angeles, CA 90041
United States
[email protected]