, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 107-124

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Housing Stocks 1935 to 1987: Crowding out and Cointegration

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Abstract

Crowding out arises in many economic contexts, from the macro concern that deficit spending might crowd out investment to the micro concern that increased employment of women might result in fewer jobs for men. Here I ask whether subsidized housing crowds out unsubsidized housing in the United States, applying the econometric tools of cointegration analysis. Such crowding out proves to require stringent restrictions on the coefficients of the cointegrating relationships that link housing stocks with one another and with other economic variables. These restrictions also apply to testing for other crowding out phenomena.

I find that public housing has steadily added to the total stock of housing since its inception in 1935. In contrast, I find that moderate-income, conventionally financed, subsidized housing, such as the Section 235 and 236 programs that accounted for more than 1.5 million new units between 1960 and 1987, most likely adds little or nothing to the total housing stock. These findings speak against recent proposals to provide subsidies to developers who build dwellings for moderate income Americans but offer qualified encouragement to those who advocate expansion of the conventional public housing program.