Agrarianism Without Agriculture?


The ever-surprising Ralph Nader has recently been reading some paleo-conservative sources, and has written a book entitled Unstoppable; the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. In the Acknowledgements at the end, he specifically thanks Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative think tank, for keeping in print a tome from the 1930s called Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence. Nader devotes the seventh chapter of his book to a discussion of this volume. He quotes Edward Shapiro’s 1999 foreword at some length:  read more »

Don't be so Dense About Housing

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Southern California faces a crisis of confidence. A region that once imagined itself as a new model of urbanity – what the early 20th century minister and writer Dana Bartlett called “the better city” – is increasingly being told that, to succeed, it must abandon its old model and become something more akin to dense Eastern cities, or to Portland or San Francisco.

This has touched off a “density craze,” in which developers and regulators work overtime to create a future dramatically different from the region’s past. This kind of social engineering appeals to many pundits, planners and developers, but may scare the dickens out of many residents.  read more »

There Will Be No Real Recovery Without The Middle Class

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What if they gave a recovery, and the middle class were never invited? Well, that’s an experiment we are running now, and, even with the recent strengthening of the jobs market, it’s not looking very good.

Over the last five years, Wall Street and the investor class have been on a bull run, but the economy has been, at best, torpid for the vast majority of the population. Despite blather about our “democratic capitalism,” stock ownership is increasingly concentrated with the wealthy as the middle class retrenches. The big returns that hedge funds, real estate trusts or venture capitalist receive are simply outside the reach of the vast majority.  read more »

Dispersing Millennials


The very centers of urban cores in many major metropolitan areas are experiencing a resurgence of residential development, including new construction in volumes not seen for decades. There is a general impression, put forward by retro–urbanists (Note 1) and various press outlets that the urban core resurgence reflects a change in the living preferences of younger people – today's Millennials – who they claim are rejecting the suburban and exurban residential choices of their parents and grandparents.  read more »

Dallas: A City in Transition


I was in Dallas this recently for the New Cities Summit, so it’s a good time to post an update on the city.

I don’t think many of us realize the scale to which Sunbelt mega-boomtowns like Dallas have grown. The Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area is now the fourth largest in the United States with 6.8 million people, and it continues to pile on people and jobs at a fiendish clip.  read more »

The Long Term: Metro America Goes From 82% to 86% Suburban Since 1990


The major metropolitan areas of the United States experienced virtually all of their overall growth in suburban and exurban areas between 2000 and 2010. This is the conclusion of an analysis of the functional Pre-Auto Urban Cores and functional suburban and exurban areas using the Demographia City Sector Model.  read more »

What We Earn


Discussions about housing affordability focus almost exclusively on the price of the real estate, movements in which are monitored by multiple organisations on a seemingly daily basis. There is comparatively little discussion about people’s incomes, which are equally as important as prices in determining what can and can’t be reasonably afforded. The income profile of what most Australian’s actually earn paints a sobering picture which could more often be taken into account in debates about housing and affordability.  read more »

From Jurisdictional to Functional Analysis of Urban Cores & Suburbs


The 52 major metropolitan areas of the United States are, in aggregate, approximately 86 percent suburban or exurban in function. This is the conclusion from our new City Sector Model, which divides all major metropolitan zip codes into four functional categories, based on urban form, population density and urban travel behavior. The categories are (1) Pre-Auto Urban Core, (2) Auto Suburban: Earlier, (3) Auto Suburban: Later and (4) Auto Exurban.  read more »

California’s Green Bantustans


One of the core barriers to economic prosperity in California is the price of housing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Policies designed to stifle the ability to develop land are based on flawed premises. These policies prevail because they are backed by environmentalists, and, most importantly, because they have played into the agenda of crony capitalists, Wall Street financiers, and public sector unions.  read more »

From Anecdotes to Data: Core & Suburban Growth Trends 2010-2013


According to the Wall Street Journal, there are "Signs of a Suburban Comeback." This is a turnaround from the typical media coverage of US population estimates in recent years, which have more often than not heralded a "return to the cities" generally more rooted in anecdote than data.

There were always at least two problems with the "return to the city" thesis. First of all, most people who live in the suburbs came from areas outside metropolitan areas and they couldn't return to where they had never lived (see Cities and Suburbs: The Unexpected Truth). More importantly, in every year for which there is data, the net inward migration to suburbs has been far greater than to the core counties, which have nearly always had net outward migration (see Special Report: 2013 Metropolitan Area Population Estimates. Under these conditions, there could not have been net migration from the suburbs to the core municipalities.  read more »