Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Lindsey Novak

Second Advisor

David Freidenreich

Third Advisor

James Siodla


Where an individual chooses to live informs many of their economic decisions and may be the single largest economic decision one makes in their lives. Through understanding the way that people choose their residential locations, we are able to better understand the opportunities available to them. Within the Chabad community, there is a large focus on emissary work, which calls Chabad Jews to move outside of large Jewish communities in order to help secular Jews become more religious. There are also certain religious amenities that are necessary to live a Chabad life, such as a local synagogue. So the question remains as to how households will prioritize various non-pricing constraints to inform their residential location decisions. The non-pricing constraints that are considered are Jewish amenities, gaining social utility through interactions with other Chabad people, and fulfilling the emissary work that is crucial to the Chabad identity. This research utilizes a theoretical framework based on a Constant Elasticity of Substitution Utility to model the preferences that families will reflect through their residential location choices. The model analyzes both single and intertemporal utility. To better inform the model, qualitative data was collected through interviews with members of three distinct Chabad communities: Crown Heights, New York City; Vegas, Nevada; and Portland, Maine. My results indicate that the majority of Chabad Jews show a preference for living near Jewish amenities rather than doing emissary work and that the Chabad population makes residential location decisions closer to that of other Hasidic populations in the New York region, a radical assertion given their unique focus on emissary work. There has been little research done on the Chabad community and even less that has been done utilizing economic frameworks. Therefore, my research adds to the literature by expanding the possibility of increasing research around this subject matter.


Judaism, Chabad, Location, Non-price, Constraints, Economic Theory