The Tax That Can Make China's Cities Safer

Imposing a property tax could reduce the incentives for over-development.

The Shenzhen landslide highlighted the costs of untrammeled growth.

Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

The mountain of mud and construction debris that collapsed in Shenzhen, China over the weekend started piling up years ago. But despite complaints and warnings from residents in the area, nobody -- neither the city, nor the company responsible for managing the site, nor the contractors who dumped debris there -- stopped or diverted the waste to somewhere safer. Fast-growing Shenzhen, a gleaming metropolis of more than 10 million people, was too busy growing to worry about an impending disaster that's left dozens of people missing or dead.

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