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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


 
  • The Fair Housing Act at 50
  • Volume 21 Number 1
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

Data Shop: Law as Data: Using Policy Surveillance to Advance Housing Studies

Abraham Gutman
Temple University

Katie Moran-McCabe
Adrienne Ghorashi
Andrew Campbell
Lindsay Cloud
Temple University


Within the large body of literature evaluating the role of various demographic, geographic, and economic factors in housing-related outcomes, law is often neglected as an influential variable. The growing field of legal epidemiology is popularizing the use of law as data in quantitative analysis. As with any other dataset, it is imperative that legal data are accurate and meet high quality control standards. To that end, a method known as policy surveillance was developed to ensure the reliability and reproducibility of legal data and can be used to evaluate the impact of law. Policy surveillance is a type of scientific legal research that produces robust, scientific data for empirical research by mapping, or tracking, laws and policies and their characteristics across jurisdictions and over time.

This article introduces readers to policy surveillance as a method to create empirical legal datasets, using two examples. The first is a cross-sectional state-level dataset covering fair housing protections in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as of August 1, 2017. The second is a cross-sectional city-level dataset covering nuisance property ordinances in the 40 most populous cities in the U.S., as of August 1, 2017. These types of empirical legal datasets identify gaps and trends in policy and facilitate evaluation studies exploring the impact of law on housing outcomes.


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