Grist interviews Ed Glaeser

Grist has an interview with Ed Glaeser, Harvard economist and New York Times columnist.  Well worth a read.

I’m an economist, right? So I don’t naturally see that it’s my business to advocate for a particular lifestyle. People choose to live in whatever type they want to live and that’s fine. But there’s certainly nothing un-American about living in a city. An urban apartment can be just as much of an American dream as living in a low-density suburb.

The policy implication that I do care deeply about is not necessarily to change lifestyles, but to change policies that bias people to live outside of cities. Policies that encourage people to move from urban apartments to single-family detached homes. We make such a fetish of home ownership. The highways that enable people, including myself, to commute to work by car over long distances instead of living close to the urban core. Those policies are all deeply hobbling.

The decision not to take appropriate steps to charge people for their carbon emissions is also, in a sense, a bias against cities. In fact, people should be paying for the environmental costs of their actions. That certainly means that we’re currently under-pricing the high carbon emissions involved in low-density living.

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