Research Beat: Looking at transit and real estate with Jeffrey Cohen

An aerial picture of a neighborhood. Research at the University of Connecticut study how public transportation affects real estate markets and substance abuse treatment efficacy.  Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery via Pexels.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut  study how public transportation affects real estate markets and substance abuse treatment efficacy.  

Jeffrey Cohen is a Professor of Finance and Real Estate in the UConn School of Business’ Department of Finance, as well as  with the UConn Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies. Cohen is also a visiting professor at the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen, Germany, and a visiting scholar with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 

Cohen’s work focuses on finance and the economics of real estate; in particular, it focuses on how transit intersects with real estate. Cohen explains how  public transportation can change a neighborhood by making it more desirable for both residents and businesses.  

“Residents can ride transit to work and avoid having to purchase a car, and customers can ride transit to shopping locations, which can increase profits for those businesses. For all of these reasons, residential and commercial property near transit is often more popular than similar properties with no transit, and this increases property values.” Cohen said.  

This isn’t the only subject Cohen is interested in, though. Cohen explains other impacts public transit has on a neighborhood.  

“More recently I have been studying transit and substance use treatment. Other interests include studying how airport and other traffic noise impacts housing prices, and how this noise may be borne disproportionately by some demographic groups,” he said.  

Currently, Cohen is the Principal Investigator for a research project on transit and addiction treatment. Having public transit nearby addiction treatment providers can improve the efficacy of said treatment, Cohen explained.   

“Increasing access and retention in treatment services is critical to improving health outcomes and reducing substance abuse overdose deaths,” reads a press release about the research project.  

Cohen says he got involved with this area of research during in his undergraduate career at Tufts University, where he was interested in what makes consumers satisfied, as well as what improves equality in a society.  

“In graduate school at the University of Maryland, I met several faculty members who were interested in how public infrastructure impacts business profitability and consumers’ well-being,” Cohen said. “I moved to Connecticut in 2000 as a faculty member at the University of Hartford, and my interests evolved to include real estate and urban economic issues, including equitable distribution of wealth.” 

From there, Cohen became a faculty member at UConn, where he continues to work on these interests.  

Cohen encourages students who are interested in doing research to make an effort to connect with professors.  

“It’s important for your professors to know who you are and what you are interested in. I really appreciate it when a student reaches out to me and expresses interest in my work and ideas, even if it ultimately does not lead to a match to work together,” Cohen said. “Working with motivated students is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. I cannot imagine having followed any other career path.” 

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