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Sample size: 3010
Field period: 09/04/2015-07/21/2016
How does spatial scale affect support for public policy? Does supporting housing citywide but “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) help explain why housing has become increasingly difficult to build in once affordable cities? I use two original surveys to measure how support for new housing varies between the city-scale and neighborhood scale. Together, an exit poll of 1,660 voters during the 2015 San Francisco election and a national survey of over 3,000 respondents provide the first empirical measurements of NIMBYism at the individual-level. While homeowners are sensitive to housing’s proximity, renters typically do not express NIMBYism. However, in high-rent cities, renters demonstrate NIMBYism on par with homeowners, despite continuing to support large increases in the housing supply citywide. These scale-dependent preferences not only help explain the deepening affordability crisis, but show how institutions can undersupply even widely supported public goods. When preferences are scale-dependent, the scale of decision making matters.
How sensitive are homeowners to spatial proximity of new housing units?
How sensitive are renters to the spatial proximity of new housing units?
Does this sensitivity interact with the housing units affordability?
Does this sensitivity interact with the resident's housing market (average rent)?
I use a conjoint experiment to manipulate the proximity and affordability of proposed housing units. Distance ranges from 2 miles away to 1/8 mile away. Affordability ranges from 0 percent affordable to 100 percent affordable. Context is taken from the respondent's ZIP code.
The outcome is the decrease in support associated with a new housing unit as it moves closer to the respondent's home. The baseline distance is 2 miles away, meaning a 12 point decrease in support at 1/8 miles is the effect of moving a building from 2 miles away to 1/8 mile away.
I find that renters on average show no sensitivity to the location of new housing, whereas homeowners show a stable level of NIMBYism across different types of housing. However, I also find that renters in high-rent cities express NIMBYism (`Not In My Backyard’) on par with homeowners when considering market rate housing (0 percent affordable). This NIMBYism is surprising given the same renters continue to support large increases in the housing supply citywide. These scale-dependent preferences show how institutions that harness attitudes at the neighborhood level can undersupply even widely supported public goods, deepening the housing affordability crisis.