An Analysis of Alternative Measures of Tenant Benefits of Government Housing Programs with Illustrative Calculations from Public Housing.

by Edgar O. Olsen, J. R. Prescott

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A new measure of total tenant benefit is derived which is consistent with the theory of consumer choice and the best available empirical work on the demand curve for housing service. Alternative existing measures (which require less information and calculation and which are, therefore, less costly to use) are compared, with the resulting conclusion that good estimates of tenant benefit are possible using mean data for projects or for the program as a whole. Other inferences can be drawn from the sample: Public housing results in roughly 10 percent increase in real income while giving 18 percent more housing service. It is estimated that about 60 percent of the benefits of public housing to its tenants comes from greater consumption of nonhousing goods and about 40 percent from greater housing service. These benefits vary inversely with family income and directly with family size. 21 pp. Ref.

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