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Does Rent Control Reduce Segregation?


  • Edward L. Glaeser


Advocates of rent control often argue that rent control aids the mixing of rich and poor, and perhaps of the races as well. Economic theory does not necessarily predict that rent control will reduce segregation. The best case for rent control as an aid to integration is that it creates pockets of low rent (and low quality) apartments in expensive cities. However, by creating an excess of demand over supply, rent control ensures that apartments will be allocated on the basis of landlord preferences, which may in fact be segregationist. Furthermore, when rent control induces poor renters to live in rich cities, those poor renters are generally older, long term renters, who are less likely to have young children living at home and are less likely to benefit most from integration. Empirically, rent control seems to have allowed some poorer (and older) tenants to live in expensive Manhattan, but rent control in the declining cities of New Jersey seems to have increased the isolation of the poor. Rent control is a very socially costly means of occasionally getting integration, and housing vouchers or supply-side policies seem likely to be much more effective.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser, 2002. "Does Rent Control Reduce Segregation?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1985, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1985

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    1. Jin, Songqing & Deininger, Klaus W. & Nagarajan, Hari K., 2006. "Equity and efficiency impacts of rural land rental restrictions: Evidence from India," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21305, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Hinrichsen, Julius & Nitt-Drießelmann, Dörte & Wellenreuther, Claudia & Wolf, André, 2021. "Der Eigentumsbegriff in den Parteiprogrammen zur Bundestagswahl 2021: Eine ökonomische Analyse," HWWI Policy Papers 133, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

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