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Property Rights are the Key to Revitalization


New models of "urban planning" are all the rage: the young, hip, creative workforce is attracted by art lofts, local music, entertainment districts, urban recreation...and we see it all in "downtown revitalization" programs aimed not at cutting taxes or providing safe neighborhoods but at providing the various amusements and shiny objects that the modern high-tech workforce supposedly demands.

There's one problem: these plans don't work. The bursting tech bubble showed us that there is no "new economics" in general; the  Wall Street Journal points out that evidence in employment trends don't exactly confirm the hypothesis that "hip" cities outperform "unhip" cities. Much to the chagrin of those who have a stake in this new urbanism, it may just be that "old economy" stalwarts like low taxes and secure property rights may be the true path to urban revitalization.



Art Carden is assistant professor of economics, Brock School of Business, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.

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