Policy Consequences, Policy Preferences, and Moral Beliefs: The Case of Rent Control

Last registered on July 19, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Policy Consequences, Policy Preferences, and Moral Beliefs: The Case of Rent Control
Initial registration date
July 13, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 19, 2023, 2:28 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Otago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of California, Riverside

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Rent control is a price regulation to make housing more affordable for low-income tenants and is especially prominent in expensive cities. Economic theory and empirical evidence suggest that rent control may lead to undesirable economic outcomes. Most notably, rent control may reduce the quantity supplied of rental housing and beneficiaries of the controlled price may include a significant number of high-income households. Even so, rent control continues to be a popular policy tool among politicians and activists and the public debate is far from settled. We will employ a randomized control trial to ask the following question regarding rent control policy: Does learning about the economic impacts of rent control on the quantity of housing supplied and the distribution of benefits of the policy affect the political commitment of individuals towards the regulation? We will explore the moral reasons why some people support and others oppose rent control as part of public policy and ask if better information on the empirically plausible consequences of rent control influences the extent of political commitment to the policy.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Agarwal, Neha and David Fairris. 2023. "Policy Consequences, Policy Preferences, and Moral Beliefs: The Case of Rent Control." AEA RCT Registry. July 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.11652-1.0
Experimental Details


We will use a between-groups design. The main intervention is providing information on two key economic impacts of rent control. The first involves information about the effect of rent control on the quantity of rental housing supplied in the market. The second offers information regarding the low-income status of the beneficiaries of the policy. These estimates are derived from a review of the previous literature.
Additionally, we test the change in commitment to rent control policy when information is provided on the economic consequences of an alternate housing policy- namely, housing vouchers- on the two economic outcomes (i.e., quantity of rental units and targeting).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Change in the level of political commitment measured on a scale of 0 to 100 with five subjective assessment indicators evenly spaced in this range.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We plan to conduct an online experiment programmed in Qualtrics and administered using Prolific--- a common economics online research platform.

We first start by eliciting information about the degree of respondents’ support or opposition to rent control. Respondents will be provided with information on the changes in the quantity of rental housing stock because of rent control and what proportion of rental housing is occupied by low-income households. The estimates will correspond to three values: low, medium, and high. These estimates are randomly assigned to the respondents in both surveys. After each piece of information given we will ask for their support or opposition to the rent control policy.
We will also provide information about the impact of housing vouchers on the quantity of rental housing and the income distribution of beneficiaries in comparison to rent control and elicit respondents’ preferences between rent control and housing vouchers. The information comparing vouchers to rent control on the two aspects of the quantity of housing supplied and targeting will also be randomly allocated to the respondents. Participants will also be asked a number of demographic questions, and some questions about their beliefs and values.

Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done in the office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
3000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
3 treatment arms (low, medium, and high) with each arm getting an equal number of respondents.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB, University of California, Riverside
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Human Ethics Committee, U of Otago
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials