Wendell Cox Reviews 'Sprawl Costs'

A new book, "Sprawl Costs" evaluates the costs of unchecked dvelopment. The book merely recycles the tired claims that suburbanization (pejoratively called urban sprawl) is more costly, writes Wendell Cox.
November 16, 2005, 9am PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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Sprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development, by authors Robert Burchell, Anthony Downs, Barbara McCann and Sahan Mukheri, is "an outgrowth of a study led by Burchell, which concluded that more compact (less suburban) development over 25-years could save $225,000,000,000 in government expenditures. The study made the all-too-common error of concluding that many zeros after a number make it significant. They do not. It will probably take the average reader at least 225,000,000,000 nanoseconds to read this article. $225 billion over 25 years is less than $30 per capita each year. This is a pittance in comparison with overall public expenditures, which have.risen more than 100 times that fast over the past 25 years after adjustment for inflation.

Aside from the shock value, the validity of the numbers is questionable. In fact, the suburbs are not more expensive. Joshua Utt and I published research covering more than 700 municipalities showing that actual (not theoretical) public expenditures are lowest per capita in the newer suburbs. Even sewer costs were found to be lowest in the newer suburbs. The principal reasons are that politics and labor costs drive costs higher in more compact development."

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Published on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 in The Public Purpose
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