Yes readers, I’m in the editing phase of my evaluation of “The Economic Value of a Law Degree,” and my results will appear on The Am Law Daily soon enough.
But in the meantime, I’m finding it really disheartening to see Paul Krugman producing evidence that Henry George was right about the affects of urban land speculation without understanding the theory behind it. It’s like watching a Ptolemist proposing epicycles when Kepler already showed us elliptical orbits
In “A Tale of Two Rust-Belt Cities” he compares Detroit to Pittsburgh:
It’s hard to avoid the sense that greater Pittsburgh, by taking better care of its core, also improved its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. In that sense, Detroit’s disaster isn’t just about industrial decline; it’s about urban decline, which isn’t the same thing. If you like, sprawl killed Detroit, by depriving it of the kind of environment that could incubate new sources of prosperity.
Then, in “Did Sprawl Kill Horatio Alger?” he compares bottom-to-top income quartile mobility to population-weighted density, finding a correlation:
Yep, there’s a pretty strong correlation, although not perfect. What’s the matter with Chicago?(And what’s not the matter with Houston?) And as Leonhart suggests, Atlanta is the real poster child here: massive sprawl and very low social mobility.
Is the relationship causal? You can easily think of reasons for spurious correlation: sprawl is associated with being in the sunbelt, with voting Republican, with having weak social safety net programs, etc.. Still, it’s striking.
I believe the South is known for low property taxes. I’m surprised by California with Prop 13 and all, but it largely depends on the mobility measurement used in the y-axis. Twenty years ago, Mason Gaffney predictably had nothing good to say about it.