Stagnant by Design

Monday, January 24, 2011

Edward Glaeser, an economist writing for the Boston Globe, considers the slow rate of population growth in Massachusetts vis-a-vis its strong economy and good quality of life, and comes to the following conclusion:

The issue isn't lack of demand for new housing, but the vast number of local regulations that deter it. More than half the land in Greater Boston has a minimum lot size of greater than an acre. For years, communities have added more anti-growth rules, such as bans on large developments. In 2005 alone, three states each permitted more housing than Massachusetts did over the entire decade.

... [D]on't blame the weather. That explanation lets us off the hook too easily. Instead, think about how difficult it would be to add a couple hundred homes in your town and recognize that the Bay State stagnates by design.
The piece is mis-titled, though. Rather than, "If We Build It, They Will Come," the Globe should have gone for something less cute and more to the point, like, "If We Get out of Their Way, They Will Come."

It is interesting to note further that scarcity of affordable housing, a high cost of living, and un-realized growth would all fall into the categories of "the additional costs of state and local regulations, as well as snowballing effects, such as lost opportunities," that a recent report on the cost of federal regulations did not account for in its trillions-of-dollars annual price tag for government regulation of the economy.

-- CAV

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