The Role Of Housing In Metropolitan America

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The role of housing in metropolitan America


This paper discusses the aspects of housing in Metropolitan America. It is at the vanguard of US changing economy, leading the transition to an economy based on ideas and innovation. As metropolitan experts Robert Atkinson and Paul Gottlieb have shown, the 114 largest metropolitan areas account for 67 percent of all jobs, but 81 percent of high tech employment and 91 percent of Internet domain names. (Atkinson P.19) According to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, even fewer metropolitan areas are winning the competition for the young, talented, educated workers who form the nucleus of our entrepreneurial economy. (Berube P.13)

More and more, how Metropolitan America is organized and governed determines how most Americans do in life, and how we do as a nation. Yet while the indicators cited above tell a story of economic strength and productivity, America's metropolitan areas are growing in unbalanced ways that pose significant competitive, fiscal, and social challenges that require federal attention and action. (Berube P.13)

Despite clear signs of renewal in many central cities, Suburban growth outpaced city growth irrespective of whether a city's population was falling like Baltimore or staying stable like Kansas City or rising rapidly like Denver. Even Sun Belt cities like Phoenix, Dallas and Houston grew more slowly than their suburbs. (Atkinson P.19)


Some economic consequences of unbalanced growth reflect the lost opportunities of cities and older communities that never reach their true potential. As Business Week has noted, cities still seem best able to provide business with access to skilled workers, specialized high-value services, and the kind of innovation and learning growth that is facilitated by close contact between diverse individuals. (Berube P.13)

Indeed, as Harvard economist Edward Glaser has argued, the density of cities offers the perfect milieu for the driving forces of the new economy: idea fermentation and technological innovation. These broader theories on human capital formation and metropolitan growth help explain why metropolitan areas without strong central cities—Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee—are having so much difficulty making the transition to a higher road economy. (Atkinson P.19)

The fiscal costs of unbalanced growth are also enormous. Low-density development increases demand for new infrastructure (e.g., schools, roads, sewer, and water extensions) and increases the costs of key services like police, fire and emergency medical. Then there is the substantial impact of abandonment in older communities on the property ...
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