Please enjoy the following article from the Journal of Urban Affairs, available online.
Opposition to development or opposition to developers? Experimental evidence on attitudes toward new housing, by Paavo Monkkonen & Michael Manville
Opposition to new housing at higher densities is a pervasive and understudied problem, and an obstacle to both urban sustainability and housing affordability. Most existing research on housing opposition focuses on subsidized affordable housing, rather than new market-rate development. Scholars also tend to examine opponents’ stated concerns, which often overlap and may obscure their underlying motivations. This article uses a survey-framing experiment, administered to over 1,300 people in Los Angeles County, to isolate different arguments against new market-rate housing and measure their relative persuasive power. We test the impact of common anti-housing arguments, such as traffic congestion, but also introduce the idea that residents might dislike development because they dislike developers. We find strong evidence for this idea: opposition to new development increases by 20 percentage points when respondents learn that a developer is likely to earn a large profit. This effect is similar in magnitude to arguments that new housing will harm neighborhood character. Our findings show that some opposition to housing is motivated not by residents’ fears of their own losses, but resentment of others’ gains.