The Housing Market Impact of State-Level Anti-Discrimination Laws
Collins, William J.
This paper measures the housing market impact of state-level anti-discrimination laws in the 1960s using household-level and census-tract data. State-level "fair-housing" laws attempted to bar discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and national origin in the sale, rental, and financing of housing, and they were the direct antecedents of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. Their influence on the housing market outcomes of African Americans has not been assessed in previous work by economists, but policy variation across states during the 1960s provides an opportunity to pursue such estimates. During the 1960s, blacks' housing market outcomes improved relative to whites', and the proportion of exclusively white census tracts declined markedly. But I find little evidence that the fair-housing laws contributed to those changes. Rather, the bulk of the evidence indicates that the laws' effects on blacks' housing market outcomes, on residential segregation, and on the value of property in predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods were negligible.