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Who deserves to participate in local democracy? A wide body of research shows that property owners are deeply overrepresented in local political proceedings, especially those related to housing and land use. We know little, however, about whether such inequities conflict with the public’s norms of democratic equality. This article explores perceptions of democratic inclusion in local housing politics, and whether these views can be altered with more information about political inequalities. Using survey data from 13,619 respondents across 57 cities, we find that: (1) members of the public prefer to hear from homeowners and longtime residents in political proceedings; and (2) disseminating information about local participatory inequalities increases the likelihood of the public wanting to hear from a renter, albeit by a substantively small amount. These results show that public persuasion may not be the most fruitful avenue for reforming these inequitable local political institutions.


de Benedictis-Kessner, Justin, Katherine Levine Einstein, and Maxwell Palmer. "Who Should Make Decisions? Public Perceptions of Democratic Inclusion in Housing Policy." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP23-016, June 2023.