Friday, September 24, 2004

Sprawl and Health

The sprawl-causes-obesity silliness has become a growth industry and we now have the inevitable sprawl-and-health follow-up. Life is too short to dwell on these but the latest research from RAND will surely get a lot of press play. It may even make "60-Minutes."

Sprawl is bad for your physical well-being -- although the authors could not establish links between sprawl and mental health.

Where to start? When the authors score "sprawling sites", they mean MSAs -- like LA county with hundreds of neighborhoods. Characterize all these with a single score?

Be that as it may. Among the control variables, it seems sensible to include how long respondents have lived in these hellish conditions -- a week, a year, a decade? I could not find anything that might even be a near-proxy.

Studies like these are funded by groups that insist that they know what "livable communities" are. They typically are not the ones that most people choose to live in.

We all know where that discussion leads.

The researchers should consider that suburbanization and life expectancy have both been increasing for many years. Surely, suburbanization causes long life.