The Social Costs of Rent Control Revisited
AbstractThe textbook graphical analysis of price control (see Figure 1) is inappropriate any time there is substantial consumer heterogeneity. In cases such as rental apartments, where one unit is usually the maximum bought per customer, and the downward slope of the demand function comes exclusively from consumer heterogeneity, this analysis misses a primary source of welfare loss. A major social cost of rent control is that without a fully operational price mechanism the 'wrong' consumers end up using apartments. When prices are set below market price, many consumers want to rent apartments even though they receive little utility from those apartments. Unless apartments are somehow allocated perfectly across consumers, rental units will be allocated to consumers who gain little utility from renting and rental units will not go to individuals who desire them greatly. The social costs of this misallocation are first order when the social costs from underprovision of housing are second order. Thus for a sufficiently marginal implementation of rent control, these costs will always be more important than the undersupply of housing. Figure 2 shows the losses graphically.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5441.
Date of creation: Jan 1996
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Edward L. Glaeser, 1996. "The Social Costs of Rent Control Revisted," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1747, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- H89 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Other
- R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Deacon, Robert T & Sonstelie, Jon, 1989. "The Welfare Costs of Rationing by Waiting," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(2), pages 179-96, April.
- Barzel, Yoram, 1974. "A Theory of Rationing by Waiting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 73-95, April.
- Weitzman, Martin L, 1974.
"Prices vs. Quantities,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 477-91, October.
- Deacon, Robert T & Sonstelie, Jon, 1991. "Price Controls and Rent Dissipation with Endogenous Transaction Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1361-73, December.
- Arnott, Richard, 1987. "Economic theory and housing," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 24, pages 959-988 Elsevier.
- Richard Arnott, 1995. "Time for Revisionism on Rent Control?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 99-120, Winter.
- Richard Arnott, 1988.
"Housing Vacancies, Thin Markets, and Idiosyncratic Tastes,"
722, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
- Arnott, Richard, 1989. "Housing Vacancies, Thin Markets, and Idiosyncratic Tastes," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-30, February.
- Gyourko, Joseph & Linneman, Peter, 1989. "Equity and efficiency aspects of rent control: An empirical study of New York City," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 54-74, July.
- Cheung, Steven N S, 1974. "A Theory of Price Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 53-71, April.
- Smith, Lawrence B & Rosen, Kenneth T & Fallis, George, 1988. "Recent Developments in Economic Models of Housing Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 29-64, March.
- Olsen, Edgar O, 1972. "An Econometric Analysis of Rent Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(6), pages 1081-1100, Nov.-Dec..
- Suen, Wing, 1989. "Rationing and Rent Dissipation in the Presence of Heterogeneous Individuals," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1384-94, December.
- Mason, Carl & Quigley, John M., 2007. "The curious institution of mobile home rent control," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 189-208, June.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 1997.
"The Misallocation of Housing Under Rent Control,"
NBER Working Papers
6220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Morten Skak & Gintautas Bloze, 2013.
"Rent Control and Misallocation,"
Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 50(10), pages 1988-2005, August.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.