Do Left-Leaning Cities Oppose New Housing?

Original post date: February 25, 2013
Article by: Anonymous

Matthew E. Kahn of UCLA’s Institute of Environment concludes in a study published in the Journal of Urban Economicsthat cities with a majority of citizens registered in political parties with liberal tendencies—the Democratic Party, Green Party, and Peach and Freedom Party—issued fewer new housing permits than other cities. Drawing on data from 317 California cities containing nearly three-quarters of the state’s population, Kahn also found that these cities purchased more hybrid vehicles and were less likely to vote for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. Overall, a 10 percent increase in a city’s share of liberal voters was associated with a 30% decline in housing permits.

Kahn used regression analysis to control for other variables such as per capita income, commuting distance to the central business district, proportion of African-American citizens, and topological features such as mountains. Even when these variables were taken into account, the overwhelming evidence was that liberal cities issued fewer permits.

Kahn also found some evidence of a spillover effect in adjacent cities, suggesting the permitting policies of liberal cities may deflect growth to their neighbors. This might be the case, for example, in Berkley’s neighboring city Emeryville, which has enjoyed sharp growth in commercial and residential real estate.

About DeVoe Moore Center

The DeVoe L. Moore Center is conducts economic research and policy analysis focused on state and local policy issues and is located in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University in Tallahassee. As an educational institution the DMC provides professional research experience to undergraduate and master’s students through an extensive program of internships and independent study, preparing them for a future in public policy, economic development, public sector accountability and entrepreneurship.
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