National Science Challenge 11 Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities Research Article of the Week: Valuing Sunshine by Fleming, Grimes, Lebreton, Maré, and Nunns

Sunlight influences people’s real estate decisions, but city intensification may reduce sunlight exposure for neighbouring properties, causing a negative externality. There are hitherto no rigorous estimates of the cost of this externality. Using over 5,000 observations on house sales in Wellington, New Zealand, we derive the willingness to pay for an extra daily hour of sun, on average, across the year. After controlling for locational sorting and other considerations in an hedonic regression, we find that each extra daily hour of sunlight exposure is associated with a 2.4% increase in house sale price. This estimate is robust to a variety of alternative specifications. Our results can be used to price negative externalities caused by new development, so replacing inflexible regulations designed to address impacts of development on neighbours’ sunshine.

Access the full working paper here.

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