Michael Hankinson awarded TESS and JCHS grants to investigate political behavior and the housing affordability crisis

October 4, 2015
Michael Hankinson awarded TESS and JCHS grants to investigate political behavior and the housing affordability crisis

Awardee | Michael Hankinson, Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy.

Michael Hankinson has been awarded Time-sharing Experiments for Social Sciences (TESS) grant to investigate liberal and conservative attitudes toward new housing development, and a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) research grant to examine voting and the behavioral economics of housing in the context of an affordability crisis.

A Ph.D. candidate in Government & Social Policy, Hankinson studies political geography and local politics, with a focus on land use and urban development. His current work builds on research that has linked increases in housing costs to zoning regulations and tests theories of the politics underlying housing affordability:

Research has linked the disproportionate rise in housing costs in the top decile of American cities to regulations limiting elasticity of the local housing supply, particularly in cities with large liberal vote shares. Theories of this ideological link blame either increased opposition to new housing, increased spatial sensitivity to the siting of new housing (NIMBYism), or increased deference to community control of new housing (hyperlocalism). I test each of these theories using a survey experiment, including both attitudinal scales and conjoint analysis.

With TESS support, Hankinson will conduct a conjoint experiment to understand ideology and the housing affordability crisis. (Time-sharing Experiments in the Social Sciences is an NSF-funded program that conducts internet-based experiments on behalf of investigators throughout the social sciences, with the aim of fostering original data collection).

So what is a conjoint experiment? Hankinson explains:

In the conjoint experiment, respondents will view pairs of hypothetical development projects proposed for their city or town, then select which proposal they would prefer to see built. Each profile is composed of attributes describing the development, such as how near the development is to the respondent's home or how tall the development would be. By combining these choices of support with respondent demographics, I can estimate not only the effect of each attribute level, say increasing building height, on support for a proposal, but how these effects vary by sub-group, such as a political ideology or income.

With support from the Joint Center for Housing Studies, a collaborative unit affiliated with the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Kennedy School, Hankinson will conduct a housing exit poll survey in San Francisco to investigate voting behavior in the context of the housing affordability crisis. Hiring and training over 60 field workers, Hankinson and his team will administer an exit poll designed to untangle how San Francisco voters think about the link between new development, housing prices, and the future of their urban environment.

To learn more, visit Michael Hankinson's website ►