Can Stigma Explain Large Property Value Losses? The Psychology and Economics of Superfund
This research documents the long term impacts of delayed cleanup on property values in communities neighboring prominent Superfund sites. The research examines the sale prices of nearly 34,000 homes near sites in three metropolitan areas for up to a 30-year period. To our knowledge, no other property value studies have examined sites in multiple areas with large property value losses over the length of time used here. The results are both surprising and inconsistent with most prior work. The principal result is that, when cleanup is delayed for 10, 15, and even up to 20 years, the discounted present value of the cleanup is mostly lost. A possible explanation for these property value losses is that the sites are stigmatized and the homes in the surrounding communities are shunned. The results suggest that expedited cleanup and minimizing the number of stigmatizing events would reduce these losses.