I'm wondering about the downvotes to this question and all its answers:

If rent control "doesn't work" and supply induces demand, how can cities improve affordability?

  • The question started with +5/-1 on day 1, +1/-1 on day 2, and +0/-3 on day 3 (ongoing). I'm surprised that day 1 voters mostly thought it was useful, but day 3 voters mostly thought it's a poor question. How can I improve it?
  • The accepted answer started with +3/-1 on day 1, but went from there to +1/-4 on day 2, again a heavy turnaround.
  • The other answers have attracted only downvotes.

I'm mostly wondering about the question and accepted answer, which had a turnaround from mostly upvoted to mostly downvoted (counting by day, not cumulatively). What does such a turnaround indicate? Is that common on Economics.SE? How can the question and accepted answer be improved to meet the standards of Economics.SE? Is it the lack of references to peer reviewed literature, or are there other issues? It does not seem to have received any votes to close, so it would appear the community does consider it on-topic.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I once wrote in an answer that inequality of earnings alone does not explain some phenomena. Some people downvoted my answer and some wrote to me that I should not deny inequality exists. I did not, but people (including me) frequently read what they expect to read, instead of what is written. Taking care to make your wording very neutral may help. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


I upvoted your question because a) it addresses an important topic of concern to many people, and b) your list of possible policies indicates prior research effort. However, I did have some reservations about its detailed wording that may have prompted downvotes by others:

a) "most economists say that rent control "doesn't work"" is an oversimplification, as you perhaps acknowledge by the inverted commas.

b) The argument that supply induces demand perhaps has some validity in certain circumstances, but its inclusion as a premise tends to narrow the focus of the question. That may seem a good thing, but in this case it tends to discourage answers along the lines of "The best alternative to rent control to improve the affordability of housing in cities is to increase supply, and this is how supply might be increased ...". As the question is worded, such an answer might be considered not to address the question.

It's also possible that the question was downvoted by people who are not regular participants in Economics SE and may not know much about economics but who do have a strong attachment to rent control. Whatever else may be said about it, rent control can bring substantial benefits to existing tenants with controlled rents, and that can prompt campaigns to try to counter criticisms of rent control.


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