Zoning laws hurt the poor

John Cochrane blogs:

Conor Dougherty in The New York Times has a good article on zoning laws,

“a growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment… is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy.

…Unlike past decades, when people of different socioeconomic backgrounds tended to move to similar areas, today, less-skilled workers often go where jobs are scarcer but housing is cheap, instead of heading to places with the most promising job opportunities  according to research by Daniel Shoag, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and Peter Ganong, also of Harvard.

One reason they’re not migrating to places with better job prospects is that rich cities like San Francisco and Seattle have gotten so expensive that working-class people cannot afford to move there. Even if they could, there would not be much point, since whatever they gained in pay would be swallowed up by rent.” 

Stop and rejoice. This is, after all, the New York Times, not the Cato Review. One might expect high housing prices to get blamed on developers, greed, or something, and the solution to be government-constructed housing, “affordable” housing mandates, rent controls, low-income housing subsidies (which protect incumbent low-income people, not those who want to move in to get better jobs) and even more restrictions.

No. The Times, the Obama Administration, California Governor Gerry Brown, have figured out that zoning laws are to blame, and they’re making social stratification and inequality worse.

This is the major factor in house prices in Auckland. Labour, National, the Productivity Commission, the NZ Initiative etc all agree. We just need the Auckland Council to listen – and if they won’t, to have Parliament over-rule them.

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