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LICENSING AND THE INFORMAL SECTOR IN RENTAL HOUSING MARKETS: THEORY AND EVIDENCE
Contemporary Economic Policy  (IF0.943),  Pub Date : 2020-09-23, DOI: 10.1111/coep.12501
Andrew Samuel, Jeremy Schwartz, Kerry Tan

Although the goal of licensing is to ensure the quality of services, it can also induce firms to operate informally or exit altogether. This paper examines licensing in the rental housing market by developing a model that indicates licensing's impact on the size of the underground rental market, the number of vacancies, and homelessness are ambiguous. As a result, we calibrate the model using a unique dataset from Baltimore, which allows us to directly observe underground rentals and vacancies. Our calibrations show that licensing may have a modest impact on rents, while increasing quality more substantially. (JEL L15, K42, D78, E26, O17)