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Rethinking the Federal Bias Toward Homeownership

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  • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig

Abstract

The most fundamental fact about rental housing in the United States is that rental units are overwhelmingly in multifamily structures. This fact surely reflects the agency problems associated with renting single-family dwellings, and it should influence all discussions of rental housing policy. Policies that encourage homeowning are implicitly encouraging people to move away from higher density living; policies that discourage renting are implicitly discouraging multifamily buildings. Two major distortions shape the rental housing market, both of which are created by the public sector. Federal pro-homeownership policies, such as the home mortgage interest deduction, weaken the rental market and the cities where rental markets thrive. Local policies that discourage tall buildings likewise ensure that Americans have fewer rental options. The economic vitality of cities and the environmental consequences of large suburban homes with long commutes both support arguments for reducing these distortions.

Suggested Citation

  • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig, 2011. "Rethinking the Federal Bias Toward Homeownership," Scholarly Articles 8052149, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:8052149
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2010. "The greenness of cities: Carbon dioxide emissions and urban development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 404-418, May.
    2. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do The Poor Live In Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1891, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2008. "The Economics of Place-Making Policies," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 155-253.
    5. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
    6. Jenny Schuetz, 2008. "Guarding the Town Walls: Mechanisms and Motives for Restricting Multifamily Housing in Massachusetts," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 555-586, September.
    7. Joseph Gyourko & Edward L. Glaeser, 2008. "Rethinking Federal Housing Policy," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 50499, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oliver W. Lerbs, 2014. "House prices, housing development costs, and the supply of new single-family housing in German counties and cities," Journal of Property Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 183-210, September.
    2. Oliver Lerbs, "undated". "House Prices, Housing Development Costs, and the Supply of New Single-Family Housing in German Counties and Cities," Working Papers 201283, Institute of Spatial and Housing Economics, Munster Universitary.
    3. Mika Kortelainen & Tuukka Saarimaa, 2012. "Do Homeowners Benefit Urban Neighborhoods? Evidence from Housing Prices," SERC Discussion Papers 0110, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    4. Lerbs, Oliver W., 2012. "House prices, housing development costs, and the supply of new single-family housing in German counties and cities," CAWM Discussion Papers 57, University of Münster, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM).
    5. Konstantin A. Kholodilin & Andreas Mense, 2011. "Can Internet Ads Serve as an Indicator of Homeownership Rates?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1168, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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