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Housing Development, Slow Growth Policies and Leviathan Government

Richard Buttimer and Steven Clark ()

ERES from European Real Estate Society (ERES)

Abstract: "In the presence of increasing demand for single-family housing in suburban areas, many local jurisdictions have implemented land use strategies in order to curb the growth rate in new development. Such ""slow-growth"" strategies are aimed ostensibly at limiting development patterns referred to as ""sprawl."" In terms of spatial characteristics, sprawl has been defined as a region of scattered, low-density development consisting of areas of homogeneous land usage (Burchell (1998)). Opponents of sprawl argue that it begets a profusion of deleterious social outcomes such as air pollution, traffic problems, and poverty in urban areas, to name just a few (Ewing, Pendall, and Chen(2002)). Although typically a pejorative, sprawl has been linked to certain positive social outcomes such as increased housing affordability and greater equality of housing opportunity (Kahn (2001)). Based on these reasons, slow-growth policies have been attacked politically as veiled attempts by communities to render housing unaffordable for certain demographic groups such as first-time buyers, minorities, immigrants and median-income families. Paradoxically, slow-growth policies may even be contributing to sprawl. As Glaeser and Kahn (2003) explain, the implementation of land use controls by small jurisdictions close to city centers simply pushes developers farther out to more rural jurisdictions that do not have such controls. The purpose of this paper is to formulate a theory of slow-growth policies as instruments of rational tax-revenue maximizing policy-makers. Buchanan and Brennan (1980) introduce such a characterization of governmental preferences, referring to it as a ""Leviathan"" model. Central to Buchanan's theory of Leviathan government is that politicians seek to extend the purview of government (Buchanan (1975)). Moreover, these expansive tendencies result regardless of an individual politician's motives for holding elected office. As a more analytically tractable analogue of these preferences, the Leviathan model takes tax-revenue maximization as the policy-maker's objective function. The other basic feature of the Leviathan model is that the coercive powers of the government are constitutionally constrained by the governed. "

JEL-codes: R3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2005-01-01
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