Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Virginia Postrel

Give Harvey Victims a Choice: Rebuild or Relocate

Edward Glaeser's provocative proposal for New Orleans also makes sense in Houston.
Let them decide.

Let them decide.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser made a provocative proposal: Instead of spending billions in federal dollars to rebuild the city, why not give the money to residents to rebuild their lives?

“Imagine that we were to spend $100 billion on infrastructure for the residents of the city,” he wrote. “An alternative to this spending is to give each one of the city of New Orleans’ residents a check for more than $200,000,” or $75,000 if expanded to include the residents of the entire metro area. In an impoverished city, that money would be life-changing.