Are We Headed For China's Fat Years?


Chan Koonchung’s chilling science fiction novel The Fat Years — already an underground sensation in China — will be published in the U.S. January 2012. The book, first published in Hong Kong in 2009, is partly so chilling because it reveals a scenario that is all too plausible. Set in 2013, it takes place after a second financial crisis  (euros, anyone?) that all but destroys the Anglo-American economies and ushers in “China’s golden age of ascendancy.”

The nation that leads the world in The Fat Years is less bleakly dystopian than the Stalinist state portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984 or the biologically controlled society of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Yet it is supremely authoritarian — harassing and even executing the rare dissident and putting drugs in the water supply to inflate a sense of well-being among the masses.  read more »

A Decade in College Degree Attainment


This week the Census Bureau released its 2010 data from the American Community Survey. The ACS is what contains many of the core demographic characteristics that are frequently opined upon, such as college degree attainment, commute times, etc.  read more »

Smart Growth (Livability), Air Pollution and Public Health


In response to the outcry by job creators about proposed new Nitrogen Oxides emission regulations, the Obama Administration has suspended a planned expansion of these rules.

The Public Health Risks of Densification  read more »

First Step for California: Admit There's a Problem


The October 29, 2009 issue of Time Magazine had an article titled “Why California is America’s Future.”  I sure hope not.  California is fast becoming a post-industrial hell for almost everyone except the gentry class, their best servants, and the public sector.

We only need a few numbers to demonstrate that California is clearly on the wrong track:  read more »

The Demise Of The Luxury City


The Republican victory in New York City’s ninth congressional district Sept. 13 — in a special election to replace disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner — shocked the nation.  But more important, it also could have signaled the end of the idea, propagated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of New York’s future as a “luxury product.”  read more »

What Boomers Are Choosing


In 1989, a man came to my office and introduced himself as the vice president of development for the Del Webb Corporation.  He retained my firm to prepare a master plan for their first active-adult community outside of their typical desert southwest market. 

This led me to an exploration of what made a successful active adult community.  I learned they required unique and distinct considerations quite different from those used in more conventional master planned communities.  During the information gathering process, I toured each of the Sun City projects, interviewing staff and visiting residents to understand the qualities and features which attracted buyers and provided the lifestyle sought by retirees.   read more »

Being Dense About Dwellings: Check the Numbers!


Recently I suggested that in New Zealand we are heading into the perfect housing storm. Now we have news that house prices and rentals are on the climb again, although stocks remain tight, as an annual inflation rate of 5.3% hits a 21 year high.  The economists are suggesting this is good news, although it means interest rates may have to be pushed up sooner than expected.  read more »

Declining Birthrates, Expanded Bureaucracy: Is U.S. Going European?


To President Barack Obama and many other Democrats, Europe continues to exercise something of a fatal attraction.  The “European dream” embraced by these politicians — as well as by many pundits, academics and policy analysts — usually consists of an America governed by an expanded bureaucracy, connected by high-speed trains and following a tough green energy policy.

One hopes that the current crisis gripping the E.U. will give even the most devoted Europhiles pause about the wisdom of such mimicry. Yet the deadliest European disease the U.S. must avoid is that of persistent demographic decline.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Milan


Italy's population growth has been stagnating in recent decades, but has turned around during the last decade, with the annual growth rate increasing 16 times (from 0.04 percent to 0.69 percent). According to United Nations data, Italy added more international migrants in the 2000s (3.8.5 million) than it added people in any ten year period since 1960. Some of the strongest growth has been in the Milan metropolitan region, which has begun to grow again after years of stagnation.  read more »

The Ambiguous Triumph of the “Urban Age”


In its State of the Population report in 2007, the United Nations Population Fund made this ringing declaration:  “In 2008, the world reaches an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas.”  read more »