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The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply

Albert Saiz ()

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2010, vol. 125, issue 3, 1253-1296

Abstract: I process satellite-generated data on terrain elevation and presence of water bodies to precisely estimate the amount of developable land in U.S. metropolitan areas. The data show that residential development is effectively curtailed by the presence of steep-sloped terrain. I also find that most areas in which housing supply is regarded as inelastic are severely land-constrained by their geography. Econometrically, supply elasticities can be well characterized as functions of both physical and regulatory constraints, which in turn are endogenous to prices and demographic growth. Geography is a key factor in the contemporaneous urban development of the United States.

Date: 2010
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The Quarterly Journal of Economics is currently edited by Robert J. Barro, Elhanan Helpman, Lawrence F. Katz and Andrei Schleifer

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