Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Consumption Possibilities Set Is Not Convex

While making fun of Rod Dreher, Roy brings up a point that some people miss which is that you can't live in the middle of nowhere and have all of the benefits of more densely populated areas. This true even if you have very large amounts of money, though obviously large amounts of money can help ameliorate the downsides of wherever you live and improve the upsides a bit.

Good policy can also help tip the scales quite a bit, but ultimately there are going to be some downsides to living in densely populated areas. Different people will of course have different preferences and that's why I'm going to make you all move to Manhattan people live in lots of different types of places (recognizing that choices are constrained by budgets and other things). But hopefully high gas prices will spur a bit of better urban policy which has been lacking in most places for so long due in large part to disproportionate representation of nonurban people at various levels of government.

...adding that the reverse is true obviously. You can't live in a big city and have the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere. The point is you can't just pick out the best bits that you like from each and try to combine them, though I think decades of suburban development has in large part been a failed attempt to do just that.