Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why You Can't Keep Them Down on the Farm

Roving Bandit quotes a professor on 7 reasons you can't keep people down on the farm (phrased as "reasons urban growth is a reasonable and natural phenomenon". (economies of scale, centrality,diversity cover some of the seven). The same rules mean bigger cities grow bigger.

Meanwhile Megan McArdle had a recent visit to China and an interesting post on rural life, including observations on how the government is trying to slow the rush of people to cities:
Yet even this level of income is achieved by substantial government intervention.  In part to slow the pace of urbanization to a manageable level, in part because they're worried about food security, and in part presumably just because they don't want the farmers to starve, the government offers some pretty hefty subsidies to rural communities.  The crop prices are supported above market levels; the houses, appliances, and someday cars, are acquired with substantial discounts through government programs.  According to our hosts, without those subsidies, it's not clear that there would be anyone left on Chinese farms.  Chinese agriculture is amazingly productive, as I mentioned, but it's also amazingly labor intensive, and tends to be done on a small scale; they can't compete with the massive farms of North and South America.

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