Urban Issues

Homebuilding Recovery: A Zoning & Planning Overhaul

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Part III of the Recovery Blueprint for homebuilding. Defining good zoning and good planning, and a look at how social engineering plays in.

What exactly is ‘planning’?

It can be government creation of an Interstate Highway, or a city council vote on a new park. For the purposes of this blueprint, planning refers to the design of a new land development or a design for redevelopment. In both cases, the land plan is the developer's business plan. The design will either be positive or negative for the sustainability — long-term health — of the city.  read more »

Right in the Middle: The Midwest’s Growth Lessons for America

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The Midwest’s troubles are well-known. The decline of manufacturing has resulted in job losses and dying industrial towns. The best and brightest have fled the flatlands for more exciting, sunnier, mountainous, or coastal places where the real action is. Even Peyton Manning has left the heartland for the Rockies.  read more »

The Export Business in California (People and Jobs)

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California Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg countered my Wall Street Journal commentary California Declares War on Suburbia in a letter to the editor (A Bold Plan for Sustainable California Communities) that could be interpreted as suggesting that all is well in the Golden State.  read more »

Small Cities Are Becoming a New Engine Of Economic Growth

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The conventional wisdom is that the world’s largest cities are going to be the primary drivers of economic growth and innovation. Even slums, according to a fawning article in National Geographic, represent “examples of urban vitality, not blight.” In America, it is commonly maintained by pundits that “megaregions” anchored by dense urban cores will dominate the future.

Such conceits are, not surprisingly, popular among big city developers and the media in places like New York, which command the national debate by blaring the biggest horn. However, a less fevered analysis of recent trends suggests a very different reality: When it comes to growth, economic and demographic, opportunity increasingly is to be found in smaller, and often remote, places.  read more »

The OECD Reviews Chicago

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“Although still high in absolute terms, GDP and labor productivity growth rates are sluggish – both by US and international standards. The Chicago Tri-State metro-region’s contribution to national growth has slowed over the past decade and the region does not stand out as a top knowledge hub. Despite a dynamic and numerically large labor force, the region has experienced virtually no growth in the size of its prime working-age population and displays limited ability to attract and retain talent when compared to its US peers. More worrisome are the persistence of unemployment and the lack of sufficient job creation.” – OECD Territorial Review, The Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area  read more »

Is Negative Population Growth Upon Us? Deaths Exceed Births in One Third of U.S. Counties

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Population change has short run and long run effects. Short run effects include changes in fertility rates that can result from economic fluctuations. For example, during a recession, couples may delay having children until economic conditions improve.  Once job growth has begun and expectations rise, birthrates can increase The correlation is not perfect and other demographic factors could come into play.     read more »

Australian Elections: A Comeback for Pro-growth Policy?

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The latest local government elections in Queensland, along with the by election for former Premier Anna Bligh’s state seat of South Brisbane, may point to a fundamental shift in popular mood back in favour of growth and development. After many years of anti-growth policy paranoia, it’s a refreshing wind if it lasts.  read more »

World Urban Areas Population and Density: A 2012 Update

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The latest edition of Demographia World Urban Areas has just been released. The publication includes population estimates, urban land area estimates and urban densities for all nearly 850 identified urban areas in the world with a population of 500,000 or more. These urban areas account for approximately 48% of the world's urban population. Overall, data is provided for approximately 1500 urban areas, comprising approximately 1.9 billion people, or 52% of the world's urban population.  read more »

The Best Cities for Jobs 2012

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Throughout the brutal recession, one metropolitan area floated serenely above the carnage: Washington, D.C.  Buoyed by government spending, the local economy expanded 17% from 2007 to 2012. But for the first time in four years, the capital region has fallen out of the top 15 big cities in our annual survey of the best places for jobs, dropping to 16th place from fifth last year.  read more »

Understanding Chongqing and the Fall of Bo Xilai

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The demise of Bo Xilai, the former Party Secretary of Chongqing, has turned into one of the biggest political scandals in China in recent memory and now includes allegations that Bo’s wife Gu Kailai is connected to the murder of a British businessman close to Bo’s family. It is even rumored the businessman, Neil Heywood, may have had an affair with Gu.  read more »