The Toxic Results of NIMBYism

MLewyn's picture

An article in today's New York Times discusses population growth patterns over the past several years, and suggests that population growth is fastest in the inland Sun Belt-places combining relatively warm weather and cheap housing.  A look at the charts accompanying the article suggests that it overstates its case; there are clearly some high-growth regions with above-average housing costs.  Nevertheless, there is one statistic that lept out at me: 

But of those who moved more than 500 miles, the share who said they were chiefly motivated by housing has risen to 18 percent in 2014, from 8 percent in 2007, the earliest year such data is available, according to the Census Bureau.

In other words, the number of movers motivated by housing costs has doubled.  It logically follows that regions that can't control housing costs are losing people and talent- a warning for policymakers in high-cost regions like New York and San Francisco.  In those places, the political dialogue is dominated by NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists who oppose new housing construction, and by leftists who are focused on increasing the supply of affordable housing for the poor rather than on the broader issue of housing cost and supply for the middle class. 

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