China's Megacities

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China's Megacities

#1  Postby Loren Michael » Mar 26, 2013 1:33 pm

http://www.economist.com.hk/blogs/freee ... -geography

JUST inland of Macau and Hong Kong, the Pearl River delta explodes into a sprawling mass of urbanity that includes some of China's largest and most productive cities. The Chinese government is busily knitting all of these cities together into one grand megapolitan area, home to nearly 50m people and stretching over 100 miles across at the widest part. It's like trying to tie the Philadelphia and New York metro areas together—if there were a couple more Philly-sized metros in between the two. The merger is being accomplished via a wave of infrastructure investment, including utility and telecommunications projects but consisting largely of massive spending on transport. China is undertaking similar strategies all around the country, and some clusters may come to hold nearly 100m people.

Lots of interesting stuff:

China's investments look extraordinary to many rich-world observers, but they're not so different from those made in the rich world during an earlier period, albeit at larger scale and with more advanced transport technology. It's important to recognise that Chinese rail investment, like New York's rail investment, is about more than alleviation of congestion or pollution. It is about creating economic potential by reducing barriers to exchange. Just as there is a strong economic case for reduction of statutory barriers to trade, based on the gains from larger markets and specialisation, there is an important economic case for reduction of physical barriers to trade.

It isn't surprising that emerging markets are typically much more ambitious that advanced economies when investing in new infrastructure. Advanced economies already have a large infrastructure base while emerging markets are building up from very little. Urban population growth is slower in advanced economies because the rural-to-urban population shift has occurred. But just because there is less scope for investment in such infrastructure and resulting increase in market potential doesn't mean that there is no room for improvement. Census data show that the country's largest cities continue to add population. The population of America's ten largest metropolitan areas rose by 800,000 people, just from 2011 to 2012. In many of America's large metro areas, rising populations coincide with increasing rents and home prices, suggesting that housing supply is failing to keep pace with growing demand. If it were possible to raise housing supply growth in such places, in other words, the rate of population growth might also rise. Allowing for more interaction and exchange.

There are two ways to raise housing supply growth in growing cities. You can remove barriers to construction of housing, like zoning and height limits. And you can invest in transport infrastructure that increases access to these metropolitan markets. You can also do both, and allow for greater population density around and along new transport lines, the former providing a market for (and financing for) the latter.
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Re: China's Megacities

#2  Postby Panderos » Mar 26, 2013 3:52 pm

You don't need to convince me of the importance of infrastructure. No siree. But is there a broader point here other than news of China's ongoing investment in itself?
"A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire
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Re: China's Megacities

#3  Postby Loren Michael » Mar 26, 2013 4:05 pm

Not really. This subforum is new, I was just planting seeds for conversation, establishing precepts for future rhetorical slaying of offending interlocutors.

I could start riffing on "there is an important economic case for reduction of physical barriers to trade" with respect to free trade more generally, and immigration in particular, but I just had a slew of gin & tonics so that'll have to wait.
Last edited by Loren Michael on Mar 26, 2013 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: China's Megacities

#4  Postby UtilityMonster » Mar 26, 2013 4:36 pm

There is an interesting book about how cities make the world so much better off. I read a bit of it and eventually got bored, but people in cities are roughly 50% more productive than those in rural environments. Commuting to and from work is depressing and expense environmentally, which is another boon of cities. The sheer range of options - commercial, career, familial, etc. that dense populations create contributes significantly to human well-being. Also, apartments are much, much greener than suburban McMansions.
The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"
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Re: China's Megacities

#5  Postby Thommo » Mar 26, 2013 4:37 pm

:coffee:
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