Giving people the freedom to choose among communities—to vote with their feet—is key to establishing and maintaining communities with cooperative norms. That’s the finding from recent experimental work by German economists Ozgur Gurek, Bernd Irlenbusch, and Bettina Rockenbach, summarized in their research paper Voting With Feet — Community Choice in Social Dilemmas.
In a couple of weeks, Matthew Holian and I will release a new NBER Working Paper titled The Rise of the Low Carbon Consumer City. An article in today’s New York Times manages to summarize the key ideas in our empirical paper. Here is a quote from the Times’ piece:
Along with these real estate projects, Midtown Detroit is also helping to attract or develop the amenities that city dwellers want around their apartments, like bike paths, parks where residents can walk their dogs, and places to eat and shop. A Whole Foods is to open in midtown next year, and a light rail project is in the planning stages.
So, note that the “consumer city” leads to the low carbon city! That’s the whole idea of our project. Here is our paper’s abstract:
Urban density both facilitates consumption opportunities and encourages individuals to drive less and walk and use public transit more. This paper melds insights from both the “consumer city” literature and the “low carbon city” literature. Using several data sets, we present evidence supporting the hypothesis that global urban sustainability is enhanced by downtown improvements in quality of life. We discuss possible causal channels for this association.
Cross-posted from the Environmental and Urban Economics blog.