Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Jessie Anttila-Hughes


The purpose of this study is to examine the efficacy of city policies undertaking public goods investments to benefit disadvantaged communities in San Francisco. Namely, is the process of improving the quality of public goods serving targeted populations, or does it lead to unintended consequences such as gentrification? I take advantage of the timing of city recreation center renovations and the synthetic control method to capture any difference in the proportion of users that is poor before and after the renovation date. I use San Francisco Recreation and Park Department registrant data containing user zip codes and census demographic data at the tract-level to create a blended average control for each of the six treated recreation centers that have been renovated in the city. I assign each recreation center to an analysis neighborhood and use free and reduced lunch eligibility across neighborhoods as a proxy for whether or not a recreation center user is poor. In general, we see a higher proportion of poor users in treated centers post renovation in the long-term relative to the synthetic control. Considering existing literature pointing to the positive impacts of parks and recreation services on health and other outcomes of users, evaluating policies that strive to close these disparities needs to be prioritized.