Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sprawl is Good: Common Sense Validated by Studies

There are many things in life that are so obvious, that we are surprised when others dispute them or feel compelled to conduct studies to determine what our senses and reason tell us; and so it is with suburban living, which its detractors call sprawl.

Living in a spacious home, with a little land around it, close but not too close to the neighbors, is just how most families—still the predominant form of social construct (though a study may be available saying otherwise) blessing our society—really want to live.

All of the other connected public facilities that help make this way of living possible are also publicly craved, such as expansive freeways, the water storage and flood control large dams provide; and is so often the case, the common sense of the public is very often correct.

Daniel Weintraub: Suburbs may be more friendly than you thought
By Daniel Weintraub -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 17, 2006

It is conventional wisdom in America that the suburbs are soulless places where people lack the kind of intense connections with one another that are almost inevitable in a vibrant, densely populated city center. Gated or not, the suburbs conjure up an image of bedroom communities vacant by day and filled at night with families locked behind their doors or in their own back yards, distant from their neighbors in both a physical and social sense.

That view has helped inform government policies that push for more housing density, public transit and centralization, while shunning what has become known as sprawl.

Now comes a University of California, Irvine, professor with research that casts doubt on that wisdom, suggesting that people who live in the suburbs are actually more likely than their urban counterparts to spend time with others.

"Social interaction is higher, not lower, in the suburbs," says Jan Brueckner, an economics professor and editor of the Journal of Urban Economics.

Brueckner and his co-author, Ann Largey, took data from a survey of 15,000 Americans and examined the responses through the prism of housing density. What they found surprised them.

The results showed that, other things being equal, suburban residents have more friends and confidants, invite friends into their homes more often and have greater involvement in community groups. People who live in less-densely populated areas, Brueckner says, are more likely to join a hobby-oriented club, attend club meetings and belong to a nonchurch related group.