Welcome to the academic home page of Carlos R Villarreal

My research focuses on better understanding the long-run health and economic consequences of urban health disparities. To address these questions I helped develop the Historical Urban Ecological (HUE) dataset, a new tabular and GIS data resource that links spatially refined data within cities across time
. I use that foundation to explore the neighborhood-level structure of the urban mortality transition within nineteenth century cities, the life-cycle health consequences of exposure to that urban environment among Union Army Veterans, and the influence of those early environmental conditions on long-run measures of urban form. Descriptions of other projects in progress are available on my Research page. 

Primary Fields
: Urban Economics, Public Economics, Economic History, and Applied Microeconomics

About: I will be on the job market this year and look forward to the upcoming ASSA meeting in Philadelphia. I am also a classically trained violinist and enjoy reading chamber music.

Research Analyst
Center for Population Economics
Booth School of Business
University of Chicago


PhD Candidate
Department of Economics
University of Illinois at Chicago

Where the Other Half Lives: 
Evidence on the Origin and Persistence of Poor Neighborhoods from New York City 1830-2012

Figure: 1940 New York City Block-Level Apartment Rental Prices (values increasing with darkness of shade and height) and the Location of Pre-Settlement Marshes (Blue) 


How persistent are neighborhood characteristics? By reconstructing the historical record of New York City from 1830 through 2012, I explore how exogenous environmental amenities unrelated to distance from the central business district shaped initial settlement patterns, and then examine the mechanisms through which initial conditions influence the long-run distribution of housing prices and household income. Quantitative and qualitative evidence indicate that natural drainage conditions influenced the desirability of the local environment during the settlement of New York City in the nineteenth century. Housing prices capitalize a persisting aversion to historical marshes from 1830 through 1940, prior to rental housing price controls. Household income increases with distance from historical marsh locations from 1880 through 2011 despite private residential redevelopment concentrated on and near historical marshes since 1980. Residential preferences related to household income reinforce the historical character of neighborhoods and support the observed persistence. Historical conditions continue to explain variation in the modern distribution of housing prices, household income, and the assessed value of vacant land on Manhattan Island. This work contributes to our understanding of where and why low- and high-income neighborhoods originate, how settlement patterns influence the long-run character of neighborhoods, and the extent to which historical conditions persist.