Public housing benefits are rationed through wait lists. Theoretical work on public housing allocation has debated how much choice applicants should have over units, identifying a possible trade-off between efficiency and redistribution. This paper empirically establishes the existence and economic importance of this trade-off using wait list data from Cambridge, Massachusetts. I estimate a model of public housing preferences in a setting where heterogeneous apartments are rationed through waiting time. Eliminating choice would improve targeting but reduce tenant welfare by more than 30 percent. Such a change is only justified on targeting grounds by a strong social preference for redistribution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics