The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco
Timothy James McQuade
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
Using a 1994 law change, we exploit quasi-experimental variation in the assignment
of rent control in San Francisco to study its impacts on tenants and landlords.
Leveraging new data tracking individuals’ migration, we find rent control limits renters’
mobility by 20% and lowers displacement from San Francisco. Landlords treated by
rent control reduce rental housing supplies by 15% by selling to owner-occupants and
redeveloping buildings. Thus, while rent control prevents displacement of incumbent
renters in the short run, the lost rental housing supply likely drove up market rents in
the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law.
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