Comprehensive zoning is ubiquitous in U.S. cities, yet we know surprisingly little about its long-run impacts. We provide the first attempt to measure the causal effect of land use regulation over the long term, using as our setting Chicago’s first (1923) comprehensive zoning ordinance. Our results indicate that zoning has had a broader and more significant impact on the spatial distribution of economic activity than was previously believed. In particular, zoning may be more important than either geography or transportation networks – the workhorses of urban economic geography models – in explaining where commercial and industrial activity are located.
Allison Shertzer, Tate Twinam, Randall P. Walsh
Journal of Urban Economics