Campaign Finance and Housing Constraints

Rui Yu, Business Economics and Public Policy, The Wharton School

Abstract: What is the effect of housing supply regulations on innovation? Just as innovation has become increasingly localized, restrictive local building policies are cited as the cause of skyrocketing housing prices in American cities; yet evidence is limited on the effect of such policies. I introduce a new dataset on the campaign finance of U.S. mayoral candidates from 1990-2017 to test the influence of environmental advocacy groups on building restrictiveness. This micro-data of individual, firm, and political organizations; monetary contributions yield measures of activist support. Using a regression discontinuity design around close elections, I test whether a change in regulation affects local construction activity and innovation generation.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.