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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 18 No. 1 (Winter 2004)


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Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn't It More Affordable?

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Quigley, John M., and Steven Raphael. 2004. "Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn't It More Affordable? ." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(1): 191-214.

DOI: 10.1257/089533004773563494


This paper reviews trends in housing affordability in the U.S. over the past four decades. There is little evidence that owner-occupied housing has become less affordable. In contrast, there have been modest increases in the fraction of income that the median renter household devotes to housing. We find pronounced increases in the rent burdens for poor households. We explore the low-income rental market in more detail, analyzing the relative importance of changes in the income distribution, in housing quality, land use regulation, and zoning in affecting rent burdens. We also sketch out some policies that might improve housing affordability.

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Quigley, John M.
Raphael, Steven


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