What State Housing Policies Do Voters Want? Evidence from a Platform-Choice Experiment

75 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2024

See all articles by Christopher S. Elmendorf

Christopher S. Elmendorf

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Clayton Nall

Department of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara

Stan Oklobdzija

Tulane University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 29, 2024

Abstract

How much has rising political attention to problems of housing affordability translated into support for market-rate housing development? A tacit assumption of YIMBY (``Yes In My Backyard'') activists is that more public attention to housing affordability will engender more support for their policy agenda of removing regulatory barriers to dense market-rate housing. Yet recent research finds that the mass public has little conviction that more housing supply would improve affordability, which in turn raises questions about the depth of public support for supply-side policies relative to price controls, demand subsidies, or restrictions on ``Wall Street'' investors, to name a few. In a national survey of 5,000 urban and suburban voters, we elicited perceptions of the efficacy of a wide range of potential state policies for ``helping people get housing they can afford.'' We also asked respondents whether they support various housing and non-housing policies. Finally, as a way of estimating the revealed importance of housing-policy preferences relative to the more conventional grist of state politics, we elicited preferences over randomized, three-policy platforms. In a set of results that recall the politics of the inflation-ridden 1970s, we find that homeowners and renters alike support price controls, demand subsidies, restrictions on Wall Street buyers, and subsidized affordable housing. The revealed-preference results further suggest, contrary to our expectations, that price controls and anti ``Wall Street'' restrictions are very important to voters. Contrary to the recommendations of housing economists and other experts, allowing more market-rate housing is regarded as ineffective and draws only middling levels of public support. Opponents of market-rate housing development also care more about the issue than do supporters. Finally, we show that people who claim that housing is very important to them don't have distinctive housing-policy preferences.

Keywords: housing, affordable housing, land use, public opinion, partisanship, populism, taxes

Suggested Citation

Elmendorf, Christopher S. and Nall, Clayton and Oklobdzija, Stan, What State Housing Policies Do Voters Want? Evidence from a Platform-Choice Experiment (April 29, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4811534 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4811534

Christopher S. Elmendorf (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States
530-752-5756 (Phone)
530-753-5311 (Fax)

Clayton Nall

Department of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara ( email )

Ellison Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States
6178502062 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nallresearch.com

Stan Oklobdzija

Tulane University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Tulane University
316 Norman Mayer Building
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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