Monday, June 16, 2008

Bumsoo Lee, Peter Gordon, James E. Moore, II, and Harry W. Richardson tell us how many trips we take, and the reasons we take them.


They find that less than one out of five trips is for work, and that in 2001, the average person made more than four trips per day (reinforcing my point in my last post on gas prices and urban land).

I should also mention that according to Zillow, for the Washington area, house prices in nearby Montgomery County have fallen by 7 percent in the last years, while in exurban Prince William County they have fallen by 24 percent. Paul Carrillo and I have done preliminary estimates that show that prices in the District have not fallen at all.

As for changing urban form, it will take awhile, but it could happen. Houses in the exurbs will likely not be torn down, but they will depreciate rapidly, while houses near employment centers and amenities will increase in relative value, meaning there will be incentives for dense redevolopment. For a good treatise on "filtering," see Ed Olsen's classic AER paper.


doc said...

The real issue for transforming urban structure is whether we are experiencing a permanent shift in relative prices, and whether the relative price of usburban living will continue to rise.

For most of my life (I am now 60), the relative price of suburban living has declined. Transportation becaus easier (time of commuting declined) and relatively cheaper. Suburban amenities--shopping, entertainment, schools, even parks--improved in the suburbs relative to the central city. (Now, there were a lot of policy choices that drove those changes, but, still, from the point of view of the individual making a location decision, those changes were real, and important.)

So if what we're observing is a blip, not a trend, then I doubt whether urban structure will be transformed in any meaningful way. It seems likely to me that it is a trend, though, but that is not certain, and other sorts of changes may continue the relative price advantages of dispersion of urban populations.

AC said...

It would be nice to see an analysis of home price trends that disentangled the effects of the credict crunch and rising gas prices. Perhaps an analysis focusing on rents rather than sales prices?

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