by Patrick Appel

Edward Glaeser's interview about his new article is worth a read:

One deterrent against middle-class high-rise living is that U.S. federal policy is strongly biased towards home-ownership. (I’m thinking here both of the home-ownership interest deduction and of the implicit subsidies through entities like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.) Given that more than 85% percent of detached houses are owner-occupied, and more than 85% of multi-family dwellings are rentals, the government is essentially bribing Americans to live in suburban, detached homes as opposed to multi-family dwellings or high-rise homes. That’s one reason why I think the United States should rethink its fascination with owner-occupied housing.

Another factor is that, despite heroic reform efforts, our urban schools continue to have significant problems. Until we figure out a way to handle urban schooling betterand there are lots of different ways to imagine doing thatit’s hard not to imagine that there will always be a push towards suburban living for families with kids. 

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