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Housing, urban growth and inequalities: the limits to deregulation and upzoning in reducing economic and spatial inequality

Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés ORCID: 0000-0002-8041-0856 and Storper, Michael (2019) Housing, urban growth and inequalities: the limits to deregulation and upzoning in reducing economic and spatial inequality. Urban Studies, 57 (2). pp. 223-248. ISSN 0042-0980

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0042098019859458

Abstract

Urban economics and branches of mainstream economics – what we call the ‘housing as opportunity’ school of thought – have been arguing that shortages of affordable housing in dense agglomerations represent a fundamental barrier to economic development. Housing shortages are considered to limit migration into thriving cities, curtailing their expansion potential, generating rising social and spatial inequalities and inhibiting national growth. According to this dominant view, relaxing zoning and other planning regulations in the most prosperous cities is crucial to unleash the economic potential of cities and nations and to facilitate within-country migration. In this article, we contend that the bulk of the claims of the housing as opportunity approach are fundamentally flawed and lead to simplistic and misguided policy recommendations. We posit that there is no clear and uncontroversial evidence that housing regulation is a principal source of differences in home availability or prices across cities. Blanket changes in zoning are unlikely to increase domestic migration or to improve affordability for lower-income households in prosperous areas. They would, however, increase gentrification within metropolitan areas and would not appreciably decrease income inequality. In contrast to the housing models, we argue that the basic motors of all these features of the economy are the current geography of employment, wages and skills.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/usj
Additional Information: © 2019 Urban Studies Journal Limited
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD100 Land Use
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D6 - Welfare Economics > D63 - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O18 - Regional, Urban, and Rural Analyses
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R2 - Household Analysis > R21 - Housing Demand
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R2 - Household Analysis > R23 - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R3 - Production Analysis and Firm Location > R31 - Housing Supply and Markets
Date Deposited: 03 May 2019 10:45
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2020 05:35
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100738

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