Are Big Cities Bad Places to Live? Estimating Quality of Life across Metropolitan Areas
Neither population size nor density appear to negatively impact American QOL in modern times: it appears that urbanization’s amenities largely compensate for its disamenities. Thus, there is no reason to see urbanization as lowering economic welfare, undermining arguments for policies to disperse the population to mitigate negative urban externalities. While most policy-makers are concerned about improving the amenities in their cities, the fact that most QOL differences are explained by natural amenities suggests that policy-makers should also consider ways to help households move to places with greater sun, mountains, coastal proximity, or temperate seasons. For instance, they could consider relaxing restrictions to residential development on lands wellendowed by nature, as higher densities are unlikely to reduce, and may even improve, local QOL.