Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birds of a feather … buy houses together? …

   In the 1950s, economist Charles Tiebout argued that people can choose where to live based on government.  Citizens can choose, for example, whether to live a town that is noted for good schools, on one hand, or low taxes, on the other hand.  Evidence of a vigorous marketplace for communities is evident in how Americans are segregating themselves politically, according to a new book by Bill Bishop, called “The Big Sort.” Statistics show that, among other things, far more American counties today than in the past tend to vote overwhelming for one candidate or the other. 

Zoning    Suburbanization certainly exacerbates this trend:  As the boss no longer lives in the same jurisdiction as the employee, each is less likely to encounter persons of differing political viewpoints in the community.  Some argue that this political segregation is socially corrosive.  How could land use law fight this trend?  By allowing or encouraging more low-cost housing nearby high-cost residences, of course.
  And I promise that this will be one of my last references to political campaigns as 2008 wears on …

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I'm inclined to agree with your suggested solution. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm interested to see if your instinct that political persuasion correllates with economic class. The solution would appear to rest on the "contact hypothesis." But there's still the rub that even neighbors (particularly those from different socio-economic classes) seem to have little to do with each other.

Posted by: Tim Iglesias | Jul 23, 2008 12:21:13 PM