Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Building codes and code enforcement have been criticized by governmental commissions and academic experts for unnecessarily increasing the costs of new construction in central cities, thereby reducing the ability of builders and developers to provide affordable housing and compete successfully with suburban areas. In this paper, we examine empirically the effects of the stringency of code enforcement on central city housing construction. We show that the code enforcement choices central cities make can limit their ability to compete with suburban areas for new single-family-detached and multi-family housing. We also show that minor changes in strategy will not alter this effect. Analyses presented are based on data on code enforcement practices and housing construction activity between 1985 and 1995 assembled from a nationally representative sample of 155 central cities and their metropolitan areas.