Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Jenny Weber
Last updated: August 24, 2019
HousingAffordable HousingAffordable housing is one of the biggest advantages thatthe suburbs has. Arthur Levitt first introduced affordable housing when he mass-producedhouses. The mass-produced houses were much bigger than typical city dwellings. Somesuburbs succeed because they provide an affordable, attractive lifestyle formiddle class people. Mass produced housing followed henry ford’s assembly lineprocess in mass producing homogeneous products using quality, but inexpensiveinputs. Given that somecities already have demand that far exceeds the supply which is reflectedthough the high prices, suburbs are necessary for middle income families. Itallows them to benefit from the cultural and economic activity that takes placein a city while still living in a reasonably priced spacious house.
AlthoughGlaser argues that this is a negative, I believe it’s a positive as it allowspeople to enjoy an equivalent or greater quality of life at a cheaper cost. Consideringthat most people who move out of the city are families, a large affordablehouse is a very attractive investment. Living in an apartment with multiplechildren is difficult and can be uncomfortable, but a house provides more spacewhich may be needed if the family is growing. I think regardless of cheap housing;some families will still move to the suburbs just for the benefits of increasedspace.
The families that can’t afford it will have to stay in a small apartmentthat may be insufficient space. The argument that cities are attractive to therich or poor but don’t really attract the middle class, as they can lead an equivalent,if not better life in the suburb is apt and explains why the middle class leavesthe city. A larger, more affordable house as opposed to an apartment is a hugedraw to the suburbs. Suburban housing, sometimes have amenities that aren’tprovided in the city, which also attracts people. Ultimately, however, I don’tthink the difference in relative outcomes enjoyed by these or any cities reallygoes to household mobility but to the mobility of capital. To the degree that they even can move,people are going to go where the jobs are, and if a coherently “pro-business,”labor-hostile region exists (a situation Glaeser himself makes it clear obtainsin the US post-Taft-Hartley) and a sector has no particular requirement forworld-class talent, I’d imagine that’s where a greater proportion of companiesare going to site themselves. Housing PoliciesFederal housing policies that encourage home buyingthough mortgage interest deductions and government guaranteed mortgagesencouraged people to leave the cities and purchase houses in the suburbs.
Peoplein cities are predominantly renters so when the government enacts policies thatdiscount home ownership it encourages people to leave cities. There are otherfactors that inhibit house construction like available space, type of land, butthat isn’t the largest causal factor for high prices. These high prices areoften caused by restrictive development policies, sometimes associated with environmentalismand existing resident preference. Construction policies in the suburbs are usuallyless restrictive than those in the city. Some cities have restrictions thatdiscourage construction, which keeps supply low, causing housing process toincrease.
The lack of restrictions in the suburbs encourage new construction,ensuring that housing prices are lower and more stable. The issue of expensiveresidences in the city reflects policies that discourage housing constructionin cities is an apt assessment. The lack of supply and large demand for city dwellingscause housing process to increase.
However, one could argue that even if policiesencouraged housing construction in the cities, and residences were cheaper as aresult, these cheaper residences would increase demand, causing prices to goup. Even if supply increased and prices decreased, demand would increase,causing prices to increase. For this issue to not occur, the supply would haveto increase in proportion to the increase in demand for cheaper housing. However,that would be hard to estimate but the bigger issue would be that theconstruction for the new houses would be done to encourage people to move backinto the city. Glaser argued that building new houses assuming people wouldmove into them was a risky move, as there was no guarantee.
Granted, there is existinghigh demand but estimating the demand for the new cheaper houses, is risky sinceit’s not actual, real demand but rather an estimate. This strategy is extremelyrisky given the number of houses that would have to be built and the fact thateconomic fluctuations could have adverse, unknown affects. School QualityImproved transportation technology, improved infrastructureto accommodate the new transportation technology, mass produced, affordablehousing, policies that encourage home ownership, and school quality causedsprawl to increase. Sprawl is encouraged by policies that encourage purchasinga house though mortgage interest deduction incentives, cars that allow forpeople to travel further distances, and subpar urban schoolsBig cities attract poor people but educating children ofpoor parents can create stress for an urban school system.
Cities schools haveheterogeneous student population which makes it more difficult to provideeducation as needs are different. If education was a freely competitiveenvironment this issue wouldn’t exist. The school system however gives smallschool districts local control. issues with sprawlCities encourage growth and economic innovation as theyallow people to interact and share ideas and become more productive. Whenpeople move to more productive area the whole country benefits.
Suburbanoffices tend to be more isolated which raises the economic question of whetherSuburban offices can generate the same degree of intellectual progress asdowntown’s as they have far less random interactions and are often concentratedin one industry. Suburban areas aren’t growing because of their High pays and temperate climatebut rather for various other factors that are more appealing for an increasedqualify of life. Sprawling areas were developed because of the car but policies encouragedpeople to leave the city Commute times, housing size, school quality are basedon policiesSummaryEliminating pro-sprawl policies won’t bring backevery declining city, and it won’t tant pis? kill the suburbs, but itwill create a healthier urban system whereby walking cities can compete moreeffectively against the car.