Friday, September 21, 2007

Live closer to work ...

This morning's LA Times includes "To go green, live closer to work ... New study says planning compact mixed-use communities instead of suburbs would help save the planet from the effects of greenhouse gases." The full study can be found at the Urban Land Institute website.

Socialism collapsed but climate change arrived just in time to save social engineering. So there are now many suggestions on how to redesign our cities and our lives.

My student Bumsoo Lee has taken the most comprehensive look at the 2000 commuting data (some of it published in the Journal of Regional Science 47:3) and found that for the largest metro areas the longest commutes were for downtown workers. Specifically, 7% worked downtown and had 37-minute average commutes (one-way, autos only), 15% worked in sub-centers and experienced 28.5-minute commutes, while 78% worked in dispersed locations and experienced the shortest commutes, 27.2 minutes.

The social engineering is obvious: Move jobs out of the downtowns and into the suburbs.

Not actually. We live in a world of trade-offs and must think about the costs. Social engineers cannot do this very well and this is why socialism collapsed and why we look to markets to do what commitees of wise men and women cannot.