“The rent is too damn high” is more than a political slogan. It reflects the harsh reality of increasingly unaffordable housing in America today. Ever since the economic crisis of 2008, American has been in the midst of a “great housing reset”—a shift from home-ownership to renting. But it’s not just that home-ownership that’s become increasingly unaffordable. Renting has too. Between 2001 and 2014, the number of renters who spend more than half of their income on rent grew by more than 50 percent, from 7.5 million to 11.4 million renters.
A new study by Denise DiPasquale and Michael Murray published in the Journal of Regional Science provides some answers for this growing rent squeeze. The study uses data from the U.S. Census and especially the Consumer Expenditure Survey to chart the share of income devoted to rent and other expenses over the past 80 or so years.