More Evidence of the Economic Upsides to Traffic

Because it forces infill and efficient transit, among other things, traffic is actually good per capita GDP and jobs.

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June 10, 2018, 7:00 AM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark


Statistics about time wasted in traffic and the cost it puts on society are as old as traffic itself, but a new study suggests congestion is actually good for economies Robert Steuteville reports for CNU.

How can wasted time be good? The authors of this study based on 89 US regions over 30 years say traffic pushes builders to create infill development, motivates efficient mobility like walking, biking and transit and gets people to live closer to where they want to work and entertain themselves. Whatever the reasons, they find congestion is positively connected to increases in jobs and per capita GDP.

"For our regions, peak hour delay had a statistically significant and positive effect on both per capita GDP and jobs. This suggests that our current concerns about traffic congestion negatively impacting the economy may not be particularly well founded," the authors of the study, Wes Marshall and Eric Dumbaugh write. The authors hope their study will inspire deeper research into what kind of congestion motivates useful adaptations, and what doesn't, but they feel confident that they've proven that congested roads don't lead to big economic losses.

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