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CEP discussion paper
Decomposing the Growth in Residential Land in the United States
Henry G. Overman, Diego Puga and Matthew A. Turner
February 2007
Paper No' CEPDP0778:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: R14; O51

Tags: land use; population growth

This paper decomposes the growth in land occupied by residences in the United States to give the relative contributions of changing demographics versus increases in the land area used by individual households. Between 1976 and 1992 the amount of residential land in the United States grew 47.5% while population only grew 17.8%. At first glance, this suggests an important role for per-household increases. However, the calculations in this paper show that only 24.3% of the growth in residential land area can be attributed to State level changes in land per household. 37.5% is due to overall population growth, 5.9% to the shift of population towards States with larger houses, 22.7% to an increase in the number of households over this period, and the remaining 9.5% to interactions between these changes. There are large differences across states and metropolitan areas in the relative importance of these components.