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Tyler Cowen

If You Can’t Afford the Rent, It’s My Problem, Too

Improving the quality of life in cities matters to more than just the people who live in them.

Quality of life matters.

Quality of life matters.

Photographer: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP

It is a commonplace observation that the rent is too damn high, at least in Manhattan, San Francisco, London, Vancouver and many of the world’s other glamour spots. Not only is this observation true — it’s worse than you think.

Complaints about the status quo tend to focus on how much renters have to pay out of pocket, or how hard it is to get on the home ownership track, or the problems businesses have in attracting talent. But another huge problem is one of political economy: As time goes on, governance in high-rent cities is likely to get more and more dysfunctional.