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T M Tonmoy Islam and Thomas Tiemann
''Despairing Communities and third places''
( 2022, Vol. 42 No.3 )
While the United States enjoys aggregate economic growth, the fruits are not shared equally across communities. While there has been numerous news coverage about the despair of US communities recently, there has been little empirical study the impact of third places on the level of despair. In this paper, we collect US county-level data for the years 2012 and 2017, and construct an index of despair for each county, with mean zero and a standard deviation of 1. We find that counties with higher levels of third spaces that allows social interactions have a lower level of despair. The result is stronger for counties with smaller population. This result remains robust under different specifications of the model. We explain this relationship by saying that third places allow more interactions with other individuals, and less need to indulge in self-destructive activities, which in turn reduces the level of despair in the county.
Keywords: despair, third places, social interaction, county
JEL: R1 - General Regional Economics (includes Regional Data)
Manuscript Received : Mar 29 2022 Manuscript Accepted : Sep 30 2022

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