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Title:Essays on the political economy of land use regulation
Author(s):Khan, Asad R
Director of Research:Albouy, David Y
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Albouy, David Y
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bernhardt, Daniel; Marshall, Guillermo; Bartik, Alexander W
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Land Use
Real Estate
Aldermanic Privilege
Urban Economics
Local Government
Abstract:With the rising cost of living in urban areas, the tradition of de facto community control of land-use regulation has come under increasing scrutiny. To investigate the consequences of this system of decentralized zoning, I integrate locally-controlled, endogenous zoning into a structural city model. Residents sort into neighborhoods on location and density preferences, and then vote on local zoning decisions--ignoring the productivity and amenity spillovers of additional density on other neighborhoods. For an empirical source of clearly-defined zoning decentralization, I consider Chicago's tradition of Aldermanic Privilege--which delegates absolute zoning authority to each of 50 city Ward Aldermen. Using a novel dataset of over 60,000 re-zoned land parcels, I document how these decisions are locally-determined---largely reflecting constituents' housing tenure rates---and ignore effects on other neighborhoods. For identification, I exploit the 2002 and 2012 re-districtings of Ward boundaries as a natural experiment; I estimate smaller agglomeration externalities than the literature when accounting for this form of endogenous zoning, and provide evidence that the negative externalities of development are significantly more localized than the positive externalities. Counterfactual simulation of proposed changes to the level of political decentralization suggests they would increase the size of the average development by up to 9 p.p. I then document how variation in land-use regulation between cities correlates with falling populations and rising house prices, and use the data to shed light on the phenomenon of industrial conversions.
Issue Date:2020-07-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Asad Khan
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-07
Date Deposited:2020-08

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