Rent control according to Seinfeld

Shane Sanders, Andrew Luccasen, Abhinav Alakshendra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


More than 30 years after its premiere, Seinfeld continues its run as a seminally popular television show. On October 1, 2021, five-year streaming rights to the show were purchased by Netflix for $500 million. Set in New York City, where rent control laws have a long history, several episodes of the show consider the trials of apartment living, including shortages, tastes for discrimination by sellers, bribery, search costs, and quality degradation. Seinfeld also illustrates the informal process through which rent-controlled apartments are advertised (e.g., less advertising under rent control shortage). This paper argues that popular media can be used as an effective pedagogical tool in learning. This paper analyzes four episodes of Seinfeld to help students identify and differentiate the very real costs of rent control. The paper also guides students to appreciate the difficulty in crafting a policy that is free of unintended consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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