Stephen Billings
Associate Professor • Faculty Director of MS Real Estate • Research Director of CUREC • Global Real Estate Capital Markets Chair
Finance • CU Real Estate Center • Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making

Koelbel - 427

Research Statement

Steve's research focuses on the intersection of housing, schools, neighborhoods and crime. His work addresses a number of important policy issues including the impact of public investment in light-rail transit on neighborhoods, how school segregation influences academic achievement and crime, the causes of neighborhood gentrification, lead-based paint and low-income housing as well as ongoing research that examines the role of peers and youth environment on adult criminal outcomes. He works extensively with large micro-datasets and has a number of studies based on data and policies in Charlotte, NC and Denver, CO.


Steve joined the University of Colorado - Boulder in the summer of 2016.  He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Colorado, a MS in urban planning from the University of North Carolina and a BS in economics from Georgetown University. He was previously at the University of North Carolina Charlotte where he was positioned in both and economics and public policy and was the faculty director for the real estate center.

Beyond research, Steve has extensive teaching and consulting experience in conducting cost-benefit analysis as well as policy evaluation. He is currently a regular instructor for undergraduate and masters classes in real estate finance and economics and has taught doctoral and masters level classes that teach students how to conduct cost-benefit analysis as well as a variety of statistical and quantitative methods. Steve has conducted studies of the economic costs and benefits of the 16 North Carolina public higher education campuses on the state economy; assessed the need for affordable housing in a number of communities throughout Colorado; studied the impact of the legalization of marijuana on property markets; as well as conducted cost-benefit analysis of the creation of downtown business improvement districts for a number of local governments throughout the state of Colorado.

Selected Publications


Partners in CrimeAmerican Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 11(1), 2019:126-50.  (with Dave Deming and Steve Ross)

Life After Lead: Effects of Early Interventions for Children Exposed to Lead American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 10(3), 2018:315-44. (with Kevin Schnepel)

Gentrification and Failing Schools: The Unintended Consequences of School Choice under NCLBReview of Economics & Statistics. 100.1, 2018: 65-77. (with Steve Ross and Eric Brunner)

The Value of a Healthy Home: Lead Paint Remediation and Housing ValuesJournal of Public Economics. 153, 2017: 69-81. (with Kevin Schnepel)

Agglomeration within an Urban AreaJournal of Urban Economics 91(1), 2016:13-25. (with Erik Johnson)

School Segregation, Educational Attainment and Crime: Evidence from the End of Busing in Charlotte-MecklenburgThe Quarterly Journal of Economics. 129 (1), 2014: 435-476. (with Dave J. Deming and Jonah Rockoff)  

Should Cities go for the Gold? The Long-Term Impacts of Hosting the Olympics” Economic Inquiry, 50(3), 2012: 642-647 (with J. Scott Holladay).

A Nonparametric Test for Industrial SpecializationJournal of Urban Economics, 71(3), 2012: 312-331 (with Erik Johnson).

 “The Location Quotient as an Estimator of Industrial ConcentrationRegional Science & Urban Economics, 42(4), 2012: 642-647. (with Erik Johnson)

Estimating the Value of a New Transit Option” Regional Science and Urban Economics, 41(6), 2011:525-536.

Real Estate and Public Policy Journals

Hedonic Amenity Valuation and Housing RenovationsReal Estate Economics, 43(3), 2015:652-682.

 “Financing Residential Development with Special Districts Real Estate Economics, 41(1), 2013:131-163 (with Thomas G. Thibodeau).

Do Enterprise Zone Programs Work? An Analysis at the BordersPublic Finance Review 37(1), 2009: 68-93.

Working Papers

Hanging out with the Usual Suspects: Peer Effects and Recidivism” (with Kevin Schnepel) under review

Parental Arrest and Incarceration: What Happens to the Children?” revisions requested at Journal of Labor Economics

Win or Lose: Residential Sorting after a School Choice Lottery(with Andrew Bibler) revisions requested at Review of Economics & Statistics

“Schools, Neighborhoods, and the Long-Run Effect of Crime-Prone Peers” (with Mark Hoekstra)

Research Grants/Fellowships

Co-Principal Investigator, Which Matters More to Disadvantaged Children: School or Neighborhood Peers? with Gabriel Pons Rotger & Mark Hoekstra, Independent Research Fund Denmark, DKK 1,446,587 (~$250,000) . 2018-2020.

Principal Investigator, Inequality in the Cost to Society of Sea Level Rise with Asaf Bernstein and Ryan Lewis, University of Colorado Research & Innovation Seed Grant Program, $50,000. 2018-2020.

Principal Investigator, National Evaluation of the Housing and Neighborhood Impact of the HUD Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program, 1993-2016 with Ludovica Gazze, Michael Greenstone and Kevin Schnepel, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, $500,000. 2018-2020.

Investigator, Exploring participation in public health efforts through private multi-family and financial services lenses: Investments, returns, and targeted impacts. Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, $250,000, 2017-2019