White House economist: Excessive zoning creates inequality, bubbles, environmental damage

Excessive zoning is a major factor driving up housing costs and inequality, and it also can causes housing bubbles and environmental damage, one of President Obama's top economic advisers warned Friday.

In a speech delivered at the Urban Institute in Washington, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman warned that "excessive or unnecessary land use or zoning regulations have consequences that go beyond the housing market to impede mobility and thus contribute to rising inequality and declining productivity growth."

Friday's speech wasn't the first time that Furman has drawn attention to economic issues beyond the normal partisan landscape and outside the federal government's jurisdiction. Previously, he has highlighted the role that increasing occupational licensing has played in reducing opportunities for poor and unskilled workers.

In his speech, Furman took stock of evidence that excessive housing regulations have pushed up housing prices, such house prices rising faster than the cost of construction materials.

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