Sunday, December 03, 2006

Anti-Sprawl Myth Exposed

In the Detroit News of 11/29/06 is a news report "Suburban isolation myth busted" by LA Times writer Roy Rivenburg. I always knew that those anti-sprawl studies purporting to show that suburban life was miserable were wrong. If they were true, people would not flood to those burbs. Now there is this study which says:

A professor at the University of California-Irvine has uncovered evidence to support the proverb "Good fences make good neighbors."
In a study of 15,000 Americans, economist Jan Brueckner found that suburban living is better for people's social lives than city dwelling.

The less crowded a neighborhood is, the friendlier its residents become, the report says.

For every 10 percent drop in population density, the likelihood of people talking to their neighbors once a week goes up 10 percent, regardless of race, income, education, marital status or age. Involvement in hobby-oriented clubs also soars as density falls, the study found.

This of course reaffirms the old adage that everyone needs some "elbow room," arrived at without an expensive study. Anyway, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom:
Such behavior contradicts a widespread criticism that suburban sprawl causes social isolation and anonymity.

The article ends with:
The idea that generous amounts of personal space help people get along has been under assault for years.

Author Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" and a chorus of sprawl critics have argued that the steady creep of cookie-cutter housing gobbles open space, thickens traffic congestion and damages the social fabric.

Sprawl historian Robert Bruegmann, a professor of art, architecture and urban planning at the University of Illinois in Chicago, called Brueckner's study a welcome antidote to "the endless drumroll of criticism of suburbs," although he cautioned that he hadn't read the report and couldn't vouch for its reliability.

Suburban living isn't paradise. It has its drawbacks like traffic and travel time. But so far at least, the pros far outweigh the cons in the minds of many people.

4 comments:

Inspector said...

Mike,

Those drawbacks of the suburbs are in fact caused by these same urban planners who so hate the suburbs that they deliberately sabotage them by refusing to allow roads to be built.

I have some big writeups on this subject, if you have the time:

http://z7.invisionfree.com/capitalistparadise/index.php?showtopic=711

http://z7.invisionfree.com/capitalistparadise/index.php?showtopic=731

http://z7.invisionfree.com/capitalistparadise/index.php?showtopic=748

http://z7.invisionfree.com/capitalistparadise/index.php?showtopic=821

Inspector said...

Hmm... looks like those links got cut off. here's one, and anotherjust look around the blog if you like what you see.

Mike N said...

Inspector: I just finished reading the last two links you provided and I say thanks! I will return to your site for more perusal. Meanwhile I'll be adding it to my blogroll.

Myrhaf said...

The environmentalists are stopping new roads and new nuclear power plants from being built. And who knows what else? Our standard of living is lower than what it could be, but people don't complain about what they don't know they're missing.