• Rental Assistance and Crime
  • Volume 15, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

Changes in Urban Population Densities Over the Next 40 Years

Nathaniel Baum-Snow
Brown University


Point of Contention: A Denser Future?
For this issue’s Point of Contention, we asked scholars with substantial knowledge of the topic to argue for or against the following proposition—“In 40 years, the average person will live closer to her neighbors and farther from the ground than she does today.”


Although the many forces at play will push both for and against increases in residential densities, the current institutional and market environments in the United States and the world, examined in the context of empirical evidence on reasons for urbanization and changes in urban form, point most likely toward increased urban densities in the years to come. In making my case that higher population densities are most likely, I discuss in turn the most important mechanisms that are likely to shape human land use patterns in the coming years. I first consider forces that influence city structure for existing city residents and firms, taking employment locations and urban infrastructure as given. I then consider infrastructure, local amenities, and forces that influence firm location choices. In closing, I consider the urbanization process and the influence of a rising world population.


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