The economist’s approach to social problems has two interrelated parts, consistent
measurement and use of a cost-benefit test to assess alternative policies. This essay
examines both parts of the economist’s method, primarily in the context of the United
States but with attention paid to the United Kingdom also. It will seek to demonstrate
that the problem of affordable housing can be measured and is large, even in the U.S.
Furthermore, it will suggest that the problem primarily is one of poverty. , the alleviation
of which, is a very long-run project. In this context, it will suggest that programs
to improve the housing conditions of the poor in the meantime are justified.Written by an economist, it will outline that economists favor a voucher program that
subsidizes rents for poor households who rent in the private housing market and that
they generally advocate preventing restrictions on housing supply and institutional
change in nations that do not have well defined property rights. It will suggest that
if poor households have purchasing power that is to be spent on housing and if a standard
for acceptable housing is set, then the private market can respond. However, it will
also argue that if the supply response from the private market is judged to be insufficient,
then an increase in the value of the housing vouchers can be considered.