Abstract

It is often conjectured that artistic, bohemian and gay populations increase housing values in the neighborhoods and communities in which they reside. But these groups are small, and the evidence of their effect on housing prices is anecdotal and limited. We argue that artists, bohemians and gays affect housing values through two kinds of mechanisms: an aesthetic-amenity premium; and a tolerance or open culture premium. To examine this, we introduce a combined measure of bohemian and gay populations—the Bohemian-Gay Index. We conduct statistical analyses to test the performance of this measure against other variables expected to affect housing values—income, wages, technology and human capital. The findings indicate that the Bohemian-Gay Index has a substantial direct relation with housing values across all permutations of the model and across all region sizes. It remains positive and significant alongside variables for regional income, wages, technology and human capital. The Bohemian-Gay Index also has a substantial direct correlation with other key variables, particularly income, indicating an additional indirect effect on housing values.

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