Ezra Klein has a nice post summarizing a common thread in recent books by Edward Glaeser, Ryan Avent, and Matt Yglesias: the notion that inefficient rules hamper welfare-enhancing urban agglomeration in the United States. Each author highlights restrictive rules that cut people off from the social and economic benefits of city life:
Cities are, in Klein’s words, “remarkable growth machines.” This is true in part because cities allow us to share ideas in face-to-face exchanges with ever more people. By excluding people from this exchange, the restrictive rules that Glaeser, Avent, and Yglesias describe may impede human progress, not just in the United States but anywhere they’re put to use.
Klein suggests that the US would do well to look to China, a country he sees as more embracive of urbanization. There’s no doubt we can learn a lot from rapidly urbanizing countries like China, but they might do just as well to acquaint themselves with our urban policy missteps.