The Link Between Growth Management and Housing Affordability: The Academic Evidence

Rising concerns about traffic congestion, loss of farmland, urban disinvestment, and the costs of public infrastructure have led an increasing number of state and local governments to adopt new policies to better manage metropolitan growth. Such programs often involve a package of tools such as zoning, comprehensive plans, subdivision regulations, development fees and exactions, and infrastructure investments and are sometimes described as growth controls, growth management, sustainable development, or smart growth. Despite these efforts’ increasing popularity, some observers are concerned that such efforts adversely affect land and housing markets and lead to problems of housing affordability. This paper is a comprehensive review of academic literature on the link between growth management and housing affordability. The paper concludes that the market is the primary determinant of housing prices, and that sound growth management policies provide more affordable housing than traditional land use policies.