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Why Do We Have Urban Density Controls?


  • Edwin S. Mills


Almost all urban land use controls reduce permitted densities. This article analyzes restrictions on residential densities in a conventional model of density-distance functions. Density controls force development to extend farther than in competitive equilibrium, thus increasing commuting distances and dwelling costs. Residents benefit if, as is likely, they prefer lower densities than in competitive equilibrium. But there is a limit to the extra commuting and housing costs that nevertheless make residents better off. Theoretical and numerical analyses are presented to show that likely parameter values almost certainly result in reductions in residents' welfare. Copyright 2005 by the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association

Suggested Citation

  • Edwin S. Mills, 2005. "Why Do We Have Urban Density Controls?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 33(3), pages 571-585, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:33:y:2005:i:3:p:571-585

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fama, Eugene F., 1976. "Forward rates as predictors of future spot rates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 361-377, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magliocca, Nicholas & McConnell, Virginia & Walls, Margaret & Safirova, Elena, 2012. "Zoning on the urban fringe: Results from a new approach to modeling land and housing markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 198-210.
    2. Gyourko, Joseph & Molloy, Raven, 2015. "Regulation and Housing Supply," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    3. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:4:p:663-677 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jan K. Brueckner & Shihe Fu & Yizhen Gu & Junfu Zhang, 2017. "Measuring the Stringency of Land Use Regulation: The Case of China's Building Height Limits," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 99(4), pages 663-677, July.
    5. Jyh-Bang Jou & Tan (Charlene) Lee, 2015. "How Do Density Ceiling Controls Affect Housing Prices and Urban Boundaries?," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 219-241, February.
    6. Joseph Gyourko & Raven Molloy, 2014. "Regulation and Housing Supply," NBER Working Papers 20536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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