Density Isn’t a Hipster Conspiracy, Ctd.

sprawlYesterday I wrote about how those who are starting to make the argument that tearing down I-345 is bad for poor people are indulging in crazy talk. Today we have some new numbers to back up that claim from Smart Growth America’s recently released Measuring Sprawl report. According to their research the compactness of cities has a direct relationship on economic mobility: 

The researchers compared the 2014 Sprawl Index scores to models of upward economic mobility from Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. They examined the probability of a child born to a family in the bottom quintile of the national income distribution reaching the top quintile of the national income distribution by age 30, and whether communities’ index score was correlated with that probability. . . . For every 10 percent increase in an index score, there is a 4.1 percent increase in the probability that a child born to a family in the bottom quintile of the national income distribution reaches the top quintile of the national income distribution by age 30.

In other words, the research shows that denser, more compact cities facilitate upward mobility. And another myth the report punctures is that the idea that dense, urban environments are too expensivee for anyone but young, gentrifying yuppies. In fact, the report shows that the decrease in transportation costs outpaces the increase in housing costs in dense communities.

As metropolitan compactness increases, transportation costs decline faster than housing costs rise, creating a net decline in household costs. An average household in the San Francisco, CA metro area (index score: 194.3) spends 46.7 percent of its budget on housing and transportation, while an average household in the Tampa, FL metro area (index score: 98.5) spends 56.1 percent of its budget on the same items.