fbpx

Latest Posts

Home

Facebook

Twitter

Search
About

Minneapolis council is going to waste money studying discredited policy or ‘rent control’

Recently, the Star Tribune carried an article titled ‘Minneapolis City Council begins research on rent control‘. THey might as well begin research on alchemy.

The article began

The Minneapolis City Council is considering whether they should move forward on another controversial step to protect tenants: rent control.

But this, of course, commits the basic error of confusing intentions for outcomes. Rent control policies are nothing new. An old but excellent and still sadly relevant book titled Verdict on Rent Control examines episodes from a number of countries and finds:

[I]n every country examined, the introduction and continuance of rent control/restriction/regulation has done much more harm than good in rental housing markets—let alone the economy at large—by perpetuating shortages, encouraging immobility, swamping consumer preferences, fostering dilapidation of housing stocks and eroding production incentives, distorting land-use patterns and the allocation of scarce resources—and all in the name of the distributive justice it has manifestly failed to achieve.

A recent paper by economists Rebecca Diamond, Timothy McQuade, and Franklin Qian titled “The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco” found:

[L]andlords of properties impacted by the law change respond over the long term by substituting to other types of real estate, in particular by converting to condos and redeveloping buildings so as to exempt them from rent control. This substitution toward owner occupied and high-end new construction rental housing likely fueled the gentrification of San Francisco, as these types of properties cater to higher income individuals. Indeed, the combination of more gentrification and helping rent controlled tenants remain in San Francisco has led to a higher level of income inequality in the city overall.

It wasn’t intended, but it was an outcome. This might “protect tenants”, but only at the expense of these other consequences.

This is why, when, in 2012, economists were polled with the following question:

Local ordinances that limit rent increases for some rental housing units, such as in New York and San Francisco, have had a positive impact over the past three decades on the amount and quality of broadly affordable rental housing in cities that have used them.

Eighty-one percent of them disagreed. In 2000, Paul Krugman wrote:

The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and — among economists, anyway — one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ”a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.”

As the economist Assar Lindbeck put it, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing.” There. I’ve just saved Minneapolis city council whatever money they were planning to spend studying this stone age policy.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the America Experiment. 

Comments

Subscribe

Categories

Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota: St. Cloud

    Location: St. Cloud

    Sign up HERE! Courtyard by Marriott St. Cloud 404 West Saint Germain Street St. Cloud, MN, 56301 Please join Center of the American Experiment on Tuesday, July 21 for breakfast with Center policy fellow and education expert Catrin Wigfall as she explains K-12 education in the state and its persistent disparities despite decades of increased spending. Following her presentation, Catrin will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude   Catrin Wigfall is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. She is also the director of EducatedTeachersMN and EmployeeFreedomMN. Catrin’s…

    Register Now
  • Kristi Noem: The Courage to Reject a Shutdown

    Location: Online

    Sign up HERE! Join us Wednesday, July 8th for an interview with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem over Zoom. In response to COVID-19, Noem defied the norm of a statewide shutdown and let South Dakotans choose for themselves what safety precautions to take. Tune in to this live online event to hear how Governor Noem preserved her state’s economy while still keeping citizens safe. Wednesday, July 8th at Noon CT Sign up HERE!  

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota: Marshall

    Location: Marshall Golf Club

      Sign up for this event HERE! Please join Center of the American Experiment on Thursday, July 16 at Marshall Golf Club for a breakfast with Center economist, John Phelan, as he discusses Minnesota’s economic future. Following his presentation, John will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude John Phelan is a graduate of Birkbeck College, University of London, where he earned a BSc in Economics, and of the London School of Economics where he earned an MSc. He worked in finance for ten years before becoming a professional economist. He…

    Register Now