fbpx Land Use Regulations and Fertility Rates | Harvard Kennedy School


Previous literature has shown that land use regulations influence where people choose to live within the United States by impacting housing prices. In this chapter, we study the impact of these same regulations on another component of population growth-fertility rates. First, we employ a dataset on the stringency of land restrictions using court based measures created by Ganong and Shoag (Why has regional income divergence in the U.S. declined?.Journal of Urban Economics, in press). We add to this separate cross-sectional measures of land use regulations from the American Institute of Planners, the Wharton Urban Decentralization Project survey, and the Wharton Residential Land Use Regulation Index (WRLURI). Combining this data with fertility data from the CDC and the Survey of Epidemiology and End Results data, we explore the impact of land use regulations on fertility at both the state and county level. We find a significant negative relationship between land use restrictions and fertility rates across all measures and geographies. Specifically, we find that land use regulations reduce fertility rates for teens and women in their 20’s while increasing the fertility rate for women in their 30’s or older to a lesser degree.


Shoag, Daniel. "Land Use Regulations and Fertility Rates." One Hundred Years of Zoning and the Future of Cities. Springer, 2018.