Urban Economics for South Mumbai
Home Economics in NYT made me think of Bombay, especially South Bombay. It's about Edward Glaeser, Urban economist.
"....Glaeser decided that the housing crisis was man-made. The region's zoning regulations — which were enacted by locales in the first half of the 20th century to separate residential land from commercial and industrial land and which generally promoted the orderly growth of suburbs — had become so various and complex in the second half of the 20th century that they were limiting growth. Land-use rules of the 1920's were meant to assure homeowners that their neighbors wouldn't raise hogs in their backyards, throw up a shack on a sliver of land nearby or build a factory next door, but the zoning rules of the 1970's and 1980's were different in nature and effect. Regulations in Glaeser's new hometown of Weston, for instance, made extremely large lot sizes mandatory in some neighborhoods and placed high environmental hurdles (some reasonable, others not, in Glaeser's view) in front of developers. Other towns passed ordinances governing sidewalks, street widths, the shape of lots, septic lines and so on — all with the result, in Glaeser's analysis, of curtailing the supply of housing. The same phenomenon, he says, has inflated prices in metro areas all along the East and West Coasts."
Must read stuff, albeit a tad long. Glaeser goes on,
"There's some small core of the city that should be there," he says, "but the city itself has been in relative decline for years to the __ population as a whole. It's not a great spot to have a city; it's incredibly expensive to build the infrastructure to keep it there. You can't possibly argue that ____ has been doing a good job of taking care of its poor residents, either economically or socially. And surely some of the residents are better off by being given checks and being allowed to move elsewhere."
Is he talking about South Mumbai, crumbling houses and expensive infrastructure? No, actually New Orleans after the Katrina. Glaeser argued that the city should not be rebuilt as it was dying anyway. Can we make a similar argument about infrastructure spending in South Mumbai? Worth a look.