Infrastructure Spending, Policy Benefit Suburbs and not Cities

Harvard economics professor Edward L. Glaeser argues that the United States has a long, pervasive pattern of anti-urban behavior that needs to change.
March 9, 2010, 2pm PST | Tim Halbur
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Glaeser writes, "Over the past 60 years, cities have been hit by a painful policy trifecta: subsidization of highways, subsidization of homeownership, and a school system that creates strong incentives for many parents to leave city borders. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, an economist at Brown University, has documented that each new federally-funded 'highway passing through a central city reduces its population by about 18 percent.'"

Glaeser goes on to argue that subsidizing homeownership is also anti-urban, benefiting suburban single-family homes over city apartments, and that educational policy has driven families out of inner cities in search of higher quality schools.

Interestingly, Glaeser also says that funding for trains is also anti-urban, because it "decreases the advantage of living close together in cities."

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Published on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 in The Boston Globe
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