Harvard JCHS Paper Explores the Origins of America’s Housing Data Ecosystem

Date Published: 
October 11th, 2023

A new white paper by Thomas Shay Hill of Harvard University’s Joint Center on Housing Studies examines how Herbert Hoover’s Department of Commerce helped shape America’s understanding of the housing sector and laid the foundations for our current frameworks of housing data. In three parts, How to See the Housing Sector: Herbert Hoover’s Department of Commerce and the Origins of the Nation’s Housing Data Ecosystem discusses how government agencies, large firms, and research centers developed principles around data following World War I, how Hoover’s Department of Commerce subsequently applied these data ideologies to the housing and construction industries, and how these new data sources and accompanying new federal programs impacted the future trajectories of these sectors, including the creation of the public housing program in the 1930s. 


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