Photo: Flickr / Debs (ò‿ó)♪
Edward Glaeser’s new paper highlights several issues with our government’s home mortgage policies, including how they lure American families out of cities and into homes they can’t afford in the suburbs.Glaeser, an economics professor at Harvard, says this creates a host of social and economic problems.
For starters, the wealthy Americans benefit from these policies the most, so there’s the risk of lost productivity and lower wages once they move.
Even worse, living in the suburbs might be making us selfish because there’s literally more space between us and our neighbours. Rather than engaging in our community, which happens more in the city, we’re being less social and contributing less.
“If proximity breeds empathy … then distance may reduce that empathy,” says Glaeser. “Because poorer people tend to live disproportionately in cities, bribing wealthier people to leave higher density apartments is increasing the physical, and possibly also the social, distance between the rich and poor.”
In terms of energy use, single-family homes are usually built on larger lots which in turn creates “negative, not positive, externalities,” he adds. This runs the gamut from driving more to leaving a larger carbon footprint.