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On the origins of land use regulations: theory and evidence from us metro areas

By Christian A. L. Hilber and Frédéric Robert-Nicoud

Abstract

We model residential land use constraints as the outcome of a political economy game between owners of developed and owners of undeveloped land. Land use constraints benefit the former group (via increasing property prices) but hurt the latter (via increasing development costs). More desirable locations are more developed and, as a consequence of political economy forces, more regulated. Using OLS as well as an IV approach that directly follows from our model we find strong and robust support for our predictions at the US metro area level. We conclude from our analysis that land use regulations are suboptimal.Land use regulations, zoning, land ownership, housing supply

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