Zoning and the Distribution of Location Rents: An Empirical Analysis of Harris County, Texas

Jeremy R. Groves and Eric Helland


The Coase theorem presents two criteria for evaluating regulation: regulations efficiency relative to private solutions and how the regulation affects the distribution of wealth. Previous studies of the impact of municipal zoning have focused on Coase’s first criteria: whether zoning raises land values overall. This study estimates the transfer of wealth between owners of existing homes that results from the creation of a municipal zoning ordinance. We find that property best suited to residential use gains in value while property with relatively higher potential as commercial property experiences a decline in the value. We find that zoning is distributive. (JEL R 52)