Monday, October 14, 2013

Did VHS Tapes Save Central Cities?



Matt Yglesias advances the idea that innovation in pornography-delivery technology helped restore American cities:

[S]omeone should write a book about how VHS porn (and of course later the Internet) contributed to the cleaning up of America's cities. But why write a book when you can write a blog post?

[Y]ou do have a handful of businesses that can be commercial successful while also serving as neighborhood level dis-amenities. Many people do not want to live near a porn theater. And many of the people who do want to live near a porn theater do not want to explicitly articulate that preference during an intra-household discussion of where to live.

So when technological change causes these disamenities to close and be replaced by amenities (art house cinema, live theater, church) or neutral uses (housing, warehouse) the whole surrounding area benefits. The process is further spurred by the fact that there aren't great complementarities between porn theaters and other local businesses. You don't go out to "dinner and a movie" at the [porn theater], or meet up with your friends for a few rounds of drinks before the show.


Steve Clowney

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