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There is currently a widely-spread opinion that rents in San Francisco, New York and Seattle are rising too fast. I don't think Chicago (among others) is sharing in this trend. It has a similar political orientation, so it can't be dismissed as simply due to politics.

San Francisco is known for its NIMBY attitudes to new construction. So it's easy to dismiss it as an outlier. New York has effectively enacted NIMBY through its voluminous building code. Although there no direct culture of NIMBYism there. Seattle, however, doesn't really have either of those problems. And yet its rents have risen as the number of legal migrant workers has increased due to the influx of IT workers on work visas.

Since legal immigrants can't vote and legal migrant workers can't vote for even longer periods of time, it seems reasonable to assume that the local political processes would be geared towards benefiting long-time residents by enabling their rent-seeking behavior towards those who are not able to participate in the political process.

But that's just a conjecture. There is always a lot of variables at play. So I'd like to know if there are any known studies which show the correlation between lengths of time that newly-arriving legal immigrants cannot participate in the political process and the rates of rent increases disproportionate to the rents in other regions.

I want to know about legal and only legal immigrants(and migrants) because adding "illegality" of residency throws another power imbalance into the mix and introduces more variables to account for.

If you think that this is better suited for economics.SE, please, let me know. I am not quite sure if that's the case because it seems like experts on politics would be more aware of immigration-related issues.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sam I am Jul 19 '18 at 3:47
  • There are quite a few studies that correlate immigration areas with higher rents and/or higher housing prices in various US areas. However most are conducted by economists (e.g. ideas.repec.org/p/crm/wpaper/0713.html or doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2006.07.004) so they don't bother with the distinction you want between legal and illegal immigrants. Frankly the effects of the two kinds of immigration (on housing prices) are probably impossible to separate in the US. – Fizz May 5 at 21:17
  • Also, places like SF attract offshore buyers, which might not be immigrants at all. Rents are correlated with house prices... despite what you might think about rent controls. – Fizz May 5 at 22:06

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