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October 11, 2005


Hi Half Sigma
The reason why large cities are expensive is because people earn a lot in large cities and more people with lots of money means a huge demand for limited real estate. The reason why people earn more in large cities is because they are more productive in part because there are synergies created by lots of different types of business all co-located in a small geographic region.

Getting more people to be able to work in the city center would create enormous benefits. Public transportation probably helps. New York City couldn't be so wealthy if so many people were not capable of traveling the subways and the commuter trains into Manhattan every day.

It is a truism, I suspect, that living in the bigger cities is always more expensive than elsewhere.

Y'did all right, HS with your Theory 1, but transportation is only one small factor. Consider too the costs of bringing such essentials as food and water to the centre of a conurbation such as NY, or even Auckland, and a truer picture begins to emerge. Think of the other waste to be disposed of as well... sewerage.

Yes, truly you are right about garbage disposal. But then there are ways around that as well. It would require serious and major attitudinal changes to forego - as an example - the plethora of convenience foods that require plastic packaging or the wealth of plastic and card that often exceeds the bulk of the product it contains...

But your Theory 2? Hilarious!! "...wasteful government expenditure..."? Give me one example that the current Republicans have cut out? And how many more have they created? What a joke!! The heart of pork-barrel politics and you can't see the other side of the street!! But seriously, does that make living a big city more expensive?

Nah. Not by more than 1% from my experience...

There are obvious advantages to living closer to other people, but, as you point out, there are perhaps not so obvious disadvantages. People want to live close to other people, but not TOO close, which is a big reason why suburban neighborhoods are more popular than urban living.
While it's true that government regulation drives up the cost of living in a city, the same could be said for smaller towns, as well. The advantages of living in a city outweigh the regulation to an extent, or else the big cities would never have gotten so big in the first place.

So.... if more dense = more expensive, why are slums so dense? Can they afford that?

I think you're merely living in an expensive neighborhood, where the higher prices are brought about by the high demand to live where you are. There are indeed poor/middle class people in New York, they just don't live in Manhattan. They live out in the boroughs where the hyper rich don't distort prices to the extent they have in Manhattan. (what is it, 90% of manhattanites are from out of town?)

Also, do you have any proof that you're actually consuming more energy (wattage, gasoline consumption...) by living in a city, or just high prices and some pretty illogical theories?

Jane Jacobs discusses these issues in books like"Cities and the Wealth of Nations." I think she comes down in favor of dense urban centers because they generate wealth for outlying regions.http://print.google.com/print?id=metHTWDlvpcC&pg=PA100&lpg=PA100&dq=%22cities+and+the+wealth+of+nations%22&prev=http://print.google.com/print%3Fq%3D%2522cities%2Band%2Bthe%2Bwealth%2Bof%2Bnations%2522%26btnG%3DSearch%2Ball%2Bbooks%26ie%3DUTF-8&sig=k928u2raEPsR_F0hCMLX7ZWk6lc

Dense cities attract Rent Seekers, Politicians, and other parasites. The more people and more wealth packed into a smaller geographic area the easier it is to leech off of them.

The reason dense cities are expensive is the old real-estate line "location, location, location". Competition for limited space drives up real estate prices. If you want the sought-after location, you have to pay a steep price. If you paid a fortune to be there, then you have to get paid a fortune to afford it. Your income is someone else's expense. Multiply that by everyone else who lives in the city. That's all there is to it!
You don't need any other theories to explain it.

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