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The Gated City (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Ryan Avent
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

Something has gone wrong with the American economy. Over the past 30 years, great technological leaps failed to translate into faster growth, more jobs, or rising incomes. The link between innovation and broad prosperity seems to have broken down.

At the heart of the problem is a great migration. Families are fleeing the country's richest cities in droves, leaving places like San Francisco and Boston for the great expanse of the Sunbelt, where homes are cheap, but wages are low.

In The Gated City, Ryan Avent, The Economist's economics correspondent, diagnoses a critical misfiring in the American economic machine. America's most innovative cities have become playgrounds for the rich, repelling a cost-conscious middle class and helping to concentrate American wealth in the hands of a few. Until these cities can provide a high quality of life to average households, American economic stagnation will continue.

Editorial Reviews Review

If you ask people where they'd most like to live, many would name New York City or San Francisco--big cities with the best shows, the best restaurants, the best job prospects, and the highest levels of worker productivity. So why have those cities been losing population to cities with less of everything? With accessible examples and abundant statistics to back up his claims, Ryan Avent--the economics correspondent of The Economist--shows how high housing rates in these cities have driven people away and reduced not only productivity, but also creativity and opportunity. His solution is simple: let more people in by creating more housing, thus lowering housing rates and making them affordable again. He doesn't suggest giving developers free reign in city parks; instead, he advocates innovative changes to zoning laws, and an understanding that adding housing in cities brings with it more benefits than costs. --Malissa Kent

Product Details

  • File Size: 458 KB
  • Print Length: 90 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,718 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, but repetitive September 4, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For the greater part of this longer-than-usual Kindle Single, the author repeats and reframes his central thesis which I think he most concisely expresses towards the end: "The cost of housing in places like San Francisco and New York reflects one very clear, striking fact - there are many, many Americans that would love to live in places where they would be more productive and less of a contributor to climate change, if oly the locals would allow markets to respond to housing demands."

Using a series of examples, the argument is put forth that dense cities are good for both human and economic progress, that market forces should be allowed to work, and that NIMBY instincts are ultimately counter-productive. In the short section presenting possible solutions, the author highlights strengthening urban property rights, building "alternative downtowns", and compromising with anti-development forces by offering new connections to mass transit systems.

This is a sensible persuasive piece, the kind of compassionate libertarianism you might expect to read on a particularly good blog. It would have been improved if the author had gotten to the point a bit faster, but it is an argument worth considering.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative September 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Many of America's large cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas are among the most interesting, dynamic, and economically favorable places to live. Some of them, like the San Francisco Bay Area, can also boast unparalleled natural beauty and extremely favorable climate. And yet, these places are experiencing demographic downturns and loss of population, oftentimes to much less attractive locations. This is an unfortunate state of affairs for almost everyone involved: more and more people don't live in their preferred locations, the attractive cities lose a lot of the most energetic and mobile workforce, the destination cities have to deal with an increased urban sprawl, and the national economy overall loses billions of dollars in potential productivity.

In "The Gated City" Ryan Avent tries to get to the bottom of the problem of ever more inaccessible large US cities. He argues fairly persuasively that the current situation has major economic consequences, although I am not so sure that it's in fact one of the main causes of the present economic recession. Avent also seeks to find out the root cause of this problem and contends that it's mostly due to the bad case of NIMBY: the "not in my back yard" attitude of many residents in the major urban areas. These residents through the political process exercise an influence on the building permits and the zoning laws that far exceeds their economic clout. Avent provides a few interesting studies that support his main claims, and many of those are very informative and revealing. Avent also attempts to provide a solution for this problem, and suggests a few policies that may force large cities to be more accessible to middle class residents.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By J6
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the book I wished I could write. Avent aggregates phenomena occurring in local neighborhoods around the country and connects this to declining national productivity vis-a-vis high housing prices in high-wage cities and the sunbelt's growth-fueled growth. The core argument, that NIMBYISM is destroying America, is well-developed. Rational actors in communities across America seek to minimize property risk and protect their neighborhoods by reducing the density of new projects or preventing them entirely. This leads to sub-optimal location decisions for many new residents, who locate in exurban greenfield development or leave regions altogether.

Avent presents transit-oriented-development as a uniquely American solution to combat the effects of NIMBYISM. The pamphlet is concise and Avent focuses on his core argument. Thus, he only touches on how transit-oriented-development can mitigate the negative impacts associated with higher densities. I was left longing for more of Avent's prose focused on strategies to address NIMBYISM and combat its effects on non-incumbent households and national productivity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A popular book that works for scholars as well September 19, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Avent's new book is a must read for anyone interested in urban affairs, land use policy, or just how public policy can have an impact on the growth rate of the economy. Avent makes a compelling argument that growing sectors of the economy aren't adding new jobs because of the effect of local land use policies on the cost and availability of labor in the metropolitan areas where firms in these sectors locate. His use of the agglomeration economics literature to show the costs of zoning policy is both engaging and masterful. This book is sure to be cited both in popular discussion about zoning and in scholarly debate on the long-term effect land use policies have on the economy. And it's a really engaging and fun read. -- David Schleicher, Associate Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent urban planning piece January 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This single takes on current urban planning procedures and explains and expounds on why they fail, and then what we can do about it. As a student of geography and urban planning, I enjoyed and feel educated by this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth the bother, not well-argued
Uneducated, pretentious, and analytically incorrect.
Published 11 days ago by LE
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book - excellent writing!
Important issue that is too often ignored. Ryan Avent does a great job explaining the problem. I'd say this is really important for liberals to read and more importantly- take... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Fred Goodsell
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
Seriously one of the best books on zoning law and housing policy. A must read. Love love love it. Buy it!
Published 4 months ago by Jolanta Domalewski
3.0 out of 5 stars another good overview of how NIMBYism is holding us back
Not much new here, but I will read all of these books to feed my righteous anger at urban Nimbys.
Published 9 months ago by JDPink
5.0 out of 5 stars for people who want to learn!
good information about a subject I never thought of before. How home prices can move people to move. How this can interrupt the income of the entire country. Easy to understand. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jodyt
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is clickbait.
It seems like the author collected failed blog posts and put them in this repetitive and disorganized tome. Read more
Published 12 months ago by greg alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars NIMBYism is a Plague
As a sometimes reader of Free Exchange on the Economist website I have come to see Mr. Avent's take on things as ranging from pretty solid to very insightful. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jason Francis
3.0 out of 5 stars As with so many business books, an article stretched into a book
An interesting thesis on the importance of relaxed planning laws in the US. OK, but perhaps an article would have been sufficient
Published 17 months ago by Varied reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't hold my interest
I don't believe it's the authors fault; rather it's my inability to stick with academic writings. In this case, it's a great preview and topic but the dialog is somewhat... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Woodski
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting View On Sources of Innovation
Basically the author's thesis is that historically, innovation has occurred not in bucolic rural areas, but in densely populated cities. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Larry
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