Growth: what is it good for?

Accommodating a growing population can certainly be challenging. It means having to find more money to invest in transport and water infrastructure to enable new residents to live and travel in the city. As Auckland Council’s recent consultation on the Long Term Plan shows, asking people to pay more is never a very popular proposition – even if they like how the money’s being spent.

And, as Stu pointed out in his post on Auckland house prices this Monday, population growth can also put pressure on housing markets. Multiple research papers from the Reserve Bank have shown that increases in net migration tend to be followed by increases in house prices – shown in this chart. Obviously, homeowners do quite well out of this, but others face added costs:

RBNZ net migration and house prices chart

In short, it’s not surprising that some people feel trepidatious about population growth and migration. And it’s not surprising that those anxieties are especially present in Auckland, which is projected to continue growing rapidly over the next three decades.

While unease about population growth is understandable, I’d argue that it’s misplaced. In my view, the benefits of urban population growth in New Zealand far outweigh the costs. While large urban areas can become dysfunctional – think of Beijing’s astonishing smog problems or the high cost of infrastructure in sprawling American cities – New Zealand’s cities are nowhere near large enough for the diseconomies of scale to triumph over the economies of scale.

This is easy to see if we look at the periods when Auckland hasn’t been attracting migrants. Here’s a chart from a presentation on Auckland’s demographics by Auckland Council social researcher Alison Reid. It displays the composition of Auckland’s population growth since 1922. In recent decades, natural population increase – i.e. people having babies – has been the biggest source of growth. Net migration is important, but it can be quite volatile – surging up and then crashing back.

Auckland components of population growth 1922-2012

What stood out to me from this chart was that the years with little or no net migration to Auckland have not been good times for the city. Net migration slowed to a trickle during the Great Depression, and turned negative during the constrained years during and after World War Two. More recently, quite a few people fled Auckland during the economically calamitous Muldoon years. Net migration remained low during the painful adjustments imposed by the following two governments.

I wasn’t living in Auckland during the 1990s – my parents had joined the queues leaving via Auckland airport – but friends who were say that the city was turning into a ghost-town. History shows that shutting off the migration tap has never led to a better, more vibrant city or more opportunity for residents. It’s simply been a sign of failure.

My hypothesis is that New Zealand has a strong feedback loop between net migration and economic growth. When growth prospects get worse – as they did in the 1970 and 1980s – it dissuades people from coming here and encourages Kiwis to leave for greener pastures. This in turn worsens growth prospects by sucking consumer demand out of the economy and reducing perceived household wealth (i.e. lowering house prices).

By contrast, good growth prospects tend to attract migrants to New Zealand’s cities and encourage potential emigrants to stay. This in turn leads to a virtuous cycle between higher growth and increased migration.

We can’t fully control this process, as it depends in part on what’s happening in Australia and the rest of the world (not to mention macroeconomic variables that we don’t fully understand). But we can make sure that our cities are in a good position to take advantage of population growth.

The first, and most important thing we can do is to build better cities that are able to attract and efficiently accommodate more people. In Auckland, for example, we’ve got some challenges, including transport investment that’s been heavily skewed towards cars (and only cars) and rising house prices. But the flip-side of those is that we’ve got great opportunities to:

  • Improve transport choice by investing in Auckland’s “missing modes” – a frequent bus network throughout the city, rapid transit infrastructure, and safe walking and cycling infrastructure
  • Improve housing choice by providing opportunities for people to develop higher-density residential typologies in market-attractive areas
  • Invest in great public spaces, such as Auckland’s waterfront and increasing numbers of shared spaces.

Second, as we attract more people to our cities, we need to accommodate them in an efficient and environmentally responsible way. This means enabling people to live in areas that are accessible to jobs, shops, and other amenities. As I found when I looked at carbon emissions from commutes in New Zealand cities, people in inner-city areas are considerably more environmentally friendly than their co-workers from the urban fringe.

Annual CO2 emissions per commuter DRAFT v1

Moreover, the data shows that increasing density can be a positive-sum game for existing communities as well as for the environment. At the city level, we can’t observe any relationship between rising population densities and congestion – fears of traffic-choked streets just don’t seem to have materialised in practice. (So much for diseconomies of scale!)

On the other side of the ledger, suburbs with higher population densities have better consumption choices. Many of the services that people rely upon – from vege shops to Japanese restaurants to public transport to roads – exhibit strong economies of scale, which means that they get better when there are more people around.

Which suggests that there is also a third important thing that we need to do, which is to tell good stories about the opportunities that urban growth will offer us. New Zealand’s used to thinking of itself as a rural economy with some cities sprinkled around as afterthoughts. That’s a dated and inaccurate self-image when over half the economy is located in our three largest cities.

So, what’s your perspective on urban growth?

Share this

57 comments

  1. We live on a planet with finite resources, and because of growing human activity the planet is now entering an extinction phase. We, and most life, are on the way out.

    You just couldn’t be more wrong.

    1. The amount of solar energy hitting the earth each day is 20,000 times greater than the total energy consumption of all humanity combined. For all intents and purposes that is an infinite resource. Fossil fuels will be depleted but the world won’t even blink.

      But hey, if you want to sterilize your children to do your part to stop growth then go right ahead.

      1. “The amount of solar energy hitting the earth each day is 20,000 times greater than the total energy consumption of all humanity combined. For all intents and purposes that is an infinite resource. Fossil fuels will be depleted but the world won’t even blink.”

        Yes, and the sunlight hitting earth is incredible diffuse, not to mention much of it is incorporated into biological systems. It’s not a conveniently concentrated and portable energy source like fossil fuels are, these are the two properties which make fossil fuels such a useful energy source.
        As to your second comment, fossil fuels currently provide the backbone of our transportation systems. Good luck running an refrigerated 18 wheeler on batteries! Diesel does most of the heavy lifting in our economy. I’m not sure what kind of utopia you envision but in the real world the move away from fossil dependent infrastructure will not be without some significant pain (and most likely a population reduction in many areas). I think your comment is too simplistic and naive.

    2. Easy there Malthus 🙂

      I didn’t say anything about _global_ population growth – just New Zealand. The data suggests that both we and the planet would be better off if the next person lived in New Zealand, rather than Australia or the US. The environmental footprint of our households is quite a bit lower. (Of course, the environmental footprint of the dairy industry is excessively high, but dairy exports aren’t a function of our population size.)

      1. Fossil fuels will run out and we won’t even blink. Are you kidding me?

        The world food supply is totally reliant on fossil fuels and I don’t see any contingency plan on that front!

    3. Geoff, these people already exist. Allowing them to migrate to auckland is not “growth” as much as its changing the spatial distribution of growth. In many cases allowing people to migrate to nz may be more sustainable than not.

    4. Wouldn’t increasing density allow better use of these finite resources, therefore saving the planet from doom??

      You’re logic don’t make sense to me.

      1. Rearranging the deck chairs wouldn’t have stopped the Titanic from sinking. A change in course would have.

        As an absolute minimum, humanity needs to replace the 3% annual compound growth mantra with a goal of 0% growth, and change its mindset that locks it into being a consumer society.

        People are in denial that they are actually part of the environment, not independent of it.

        This blog seeks efficiency of growth, but doesn’t question growth in the first place. That’s what we (all) really need to be doing.

    5. Hopefully our technology could increase productivity, creating new cold fusion energy, and maybe in future can live in space.

      More people means more brains, that could lead to more scientists and engineers.

      1. What happens if technology doesn’t come through and we just wind up with more and more people. Have you ever wondered why NZ is considered a nice place to live compared to many other countries in the world and why our environment is in a better shape than many?

        Hint: If may have something to do with population density.

    6. And yet you have often argued virulently in favour of car based transport, especially for the pseudo rural areas you favour (mistakenly believing those areas are more environmentally friendly).

      The last thing this planet needs is more people driving cars. It is less energy efficient than swimming.

  2. I think there is a first mover advantage in a country like NZ in providing affordable urban living.

    Both the UK and Australia are struggling with housing crises.

    The UK housing situation is similar to ours, all their political parties lack the political will to supply more affordable houses, with the possible exception of the UK Labour party and even they are a bit confused.

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/a-real-housing-crisis-but-only-fake-solutions/

    Meanwhile in Australia urban section costs in their capital cities are increasing so quickly the price line is now vertical.

    http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/04/australian-land-prices-go-vertical/screenhunter_7170-apr-23-10-53/

    Would Auckland and Christchurch and our other urban centres become dynamic powerhouses if NZ confronted the housing crisis with more than half-measures?

    1. I’m sympathetic to this argument but also cautious about asserting a very strong version of it. The more I look at the issue, the more it seems that demand-side factors play the strongest role in determining prices and price trends in NZ.

      A couple pieces of evidence for this hypothesis.

      First, consider this account of the early-2000s property boom from one of the RBNZ papers above: “In the five years to March 2006, the New Zealand population increased by 257 thousand or 6.6 percent, partly because of net immigration of 115 thousand people (433 thousand immigrants and 318 thousand emigrants.) During this time, 137 thousand building permits were issued, or 0.53 permits per new person. This rate of construction was sufficiently rapid that the ratio of houses to people increased from 0.35 in 2001 to 0.36. Many of these houses were very large: 20 percent exceeded 300m2 in size, while a further 40 percent were between 200 and 299 m2. Yet despite this construction boom, real house prices increased by 67 percent, or by 10 times as much as the population increase and 22 times the population increase due to net immigration.”

      They point out, basically, that price trends during this period can’t be explained by a slow supply response.

      Second, consider this OECD paper on the topic: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/real-house-prices-in-oecd-countries_5km33bqzhbzr-en
      “The estimates imply that over recent decades financial deregulation has increased real house prices by as much as 30% in the average OECD country (Figure 6). To the extent that housing markets in OECD countries are still adjusting to this shock, however, the long-run impact of financial deregulation on real house prices is likely to be somewhat less. Of course, this is an average effect and the impact of financial deregulation on real house prices in a country such as Australia – which experienced much greater liberalisation over the sample period – is likely to be larger, in the order of 45%.”

      That’s actually a huge demand-side impact that nobody ever discusses!

      Third, remember that chart of supply elasticities I dredged up a few weeks back: http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Productivity-Commission-elasticity-of-housing-supply-chart.jpg
      NZ already has substantially more flexible housing supply than the UK or Australia. It’s unclear to me what, if any, impact further flexibility would have on relative prices.

      1. Peter I am not so black and white as to say it is all supply and no demand. But the early 2000’s was the start of land price escalation, that could still be caused (at least in part) by supply/planning restrictions with the initial effect being not a decrease in building numbers but that developers targeting the higher end of the market with bigger houses.

        I do have grave concerns about the deregulated global financial system and think someday we will be revisiting Bretton Woods. But that is something out of our control.

        The elasticity graph you refer to was difficult to interpret because both the x and y axis were a function of price.

  3. The only caveat I would add is that we are currently being naive with unrestricted property sales to all and sundry. This means that our property market is easily distorted by the purchasers from much much larger economies. NZ had restrictions in place up until the crazy days of the 1980s deliberalisation, and of most other countries have them now. Especially small countries.

    No one but a Dane can buy property in Denmark, because otherwise the huge German and other european markets would overwhelm the supply and push prices out of reach of the locals. I’m sure this law has exceptions but in general that’s the case. As a result Danes are not making windfall profits as they change property, like some are in Auckland, but then they are also not pricing themselves and their next generation out of property ownership or somewhere to live.

    Growth is good, migration is good, absurdly loose property ownership rules are naive and destructive to social equity and stability.

    1. As additional examples, only Singapore citizens can buy landed properties in Singapore, and the same applies in China. Yet these two countries are the most active in the Auckland property market.

    2. Glad you have said that Patrick. There is absolutely no need for foreign investors to own property in NZ.
      As for the migration part. Quality migration is good, however we receive a lot of unqualified migrants who do little to contribute to the NZ economy (and are quite likely a net drain on the economy), NZ does not need immigrants over 50 years of age (with a few exceptions) as we are trying to compensate for the baby boom retirement demographic. Good quality immigrants boost the economy (we don’t need more retail workers, dairy/petrol station workers, taxi drivers, etc – the argument that they do the jobs that Kiwis don’t want to do is a load of BS, there are a lot of unemployed youth in particular in NZ along with general unemployment, pay a real wage and no problem). If NZ as a country had net immigration of about 20,000 pa that would be a sustainable level (provided standards were always at a minimum level – i.e. we don’t need immigration for the sake of immigration).

      1. I disagree with your definition of ‘good’ migrants. Some of the most successful migrants of all time have been desperate refugees unable to even speak the local lingo let alone have some kind of identifiable trade. These people are very motivated to succeed and have no foot still stuck where them came from. It’s a very tricky thing t be certain about who will contribute most in the long run. Most Pakeha here now come from seriously desperate and dodgy stock, refugees from events like the potato famine, not schooled in much, but a chance can be a wonderful thing.

        Anyway, a lot of the current intake are returning Kiwis. And the others? I’m loving Auckland’s new diversity. Poets or fools? Who knows.

    3. “Growth is good, migration is good”

      Patrick, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few quick questions. I’m curious why you think this way (not saying this to argue by the way) so here are a few quick questions:

      – What are you defining as ‘growth’?
      – What is the point of the growth?
      – What are the benefits growth brings?
      – Is there a point where growth stops bringing benefit to people?
      – Is there a point where you think growth should be stopped?
      – What are your perceived negatives of growth?
      – Why do you think immigration is beneficial to NZ?
      – What are the potential negatives of immigration?
      – Is there an optimal limit to immigration or is the more the better?
      – What do you think is your optimal population for New Zealand and why?

      I’m not asking this to troll you or start an argument, I have quite different views on the matter but would like to find out the reasons for your views as it’s nice to try and see where other people are coming from. I know there are a few questions there but I would genuinely appreciate it if you took the effort to try and briefly answer them me (to help me understand other views)!

      Cheers,
      Dave.

  4. Isn’t the point that we should control migration so that as much ss possible the rises are slow and steady rather than boom and bust as your graph shows.

    1. Migration is already controlled. It’s called the points system. Or do you mean migration to Auckland in particular? We can’t do that without Soviet-style internal passports.

      Please specify which migrants you want kept out of Auckland (and be careful not to be racist).

      1. Daphne it wouldn’t appear that the points system includes a cap on numbers. I don’t care who in particular is granted PR, however it should be capped to a number p.a. that is continually reviewed.

        What has that got to do with race?

        1. During my intake (~2005), there was a migration cap, but the limit was high enough that everyone above some minimum points threshold was invited to apply for residency. I’m sure if you took a look the the immigration website, you’ll find the current numbers.

        2. I found the point system quite restrictive and well thought out, and the controls quite severe. In my case they checked qualifications, work experience, employment status (with phone call to NZ employer), references, partnership status (pictures and correspondence), health (full health check every year for 3 years…) and market research for other Kiwis who could do my job. Took me 3+ years to get PR and close to 3000$ for two, and that is without an immigration advisor who would have charged an hefty fee. I have an acquaintance going through the same procedure at the moment and it looks like the control have been tighten even more. And we talk about Europeans with real degrees and real jobs already in NZ.
          But I’m sure that’s not the way most of the migrants come into NZ. I think most of times it’s “fake” students from India or China, getting a chef job with work permit for long enough to get a PR. Or the “skilled jobs” in the shortlist that are clearly there to advantage a certain kind of immigration.

        3. Yes no need to bother with all that nonsense if you have a spare $1.5 million you can invest in NZ for a paltry 2 years.

  5. Controlling immigration into New Zealand is the one policy lever the Government controls that can actually work to influence house prices. I am not saying dont let people in, I am saying let them in when we need them. At present people are not leaving in droves so we dont need any external immigration to balance things out. Letting in thousands now just adds to our problems. The time for immigrants is when the mining sector recovers in Australia and people start heading there again.

    1. This would not necessarily be easy. The graph of population change in Auckland that I posted highlights the volatility in net migration. People tend to leave (or not come) in the bad times, which probably exacerbates our recessions, and arrive (or not leave) in increasing numbers in the good times, which probably accelerates our booms.

      If we capped migration in boom periods, the result wouldn’t necessarily be that more people would arrive in the bust periods. It’s likely that the effect would simply be to dampen long-term growth prospects.

      This is the challenge in dealing with housing (and economic) policy in NZ – the “obvious fixes” often have unintended negative consequences.

      1. It is the easiest thing in the world to hang up the closed sign when you already know people are not leaving. Like right now.

        1. I was responding more to this statement: “let them in when we need them.”

          My point is that the times we want more people are the times that people don’t want to come.

          To use an analogy – farmers know that rain doesn’t always fall when you need it. But rather than trying to control the weather through rain dances or cloud-seeding or some other bizarre idea, they build dams to store rainfall for the dry times. I’m saying – build dams (better cities that can accommodate people efficiently) rather than perform raindances (bollix up our immigration policy).

        2. Perhaps we could then address the underlying problems in our economy rather than using migration as a crunch to paper over the cracks.

        3. Papering over the cracks is exactly how successive governments (of both sides) have used immigration. It gives the illusion of growth and progress. If you target high value individuals you can cover up your existing savings problem and fixation on property. If you publish a required skills list you can avoid paying local people enough to stay. If you make a song and dance out of nominal GDP you can hide the fact we are going backwards in real terms.

        4. “If you make a song and dance out of nominal GDP you can hide the fact we are going backwards in real terms.”

          Yeah, if only we could go back to the halcyon days of the late 1970s when people were leaving in droves. None of those nasty immigrants to lower our living standards!

          Also, if you’re going to make statements like “we are going backwards in real terms”, you should provide sources. Here’s the RBNZ’s real GDP series for a start: http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/tables/m5/

          The only “going backwards” I see over the last 25 years was during the GFC, when – surprise, surprise – net migration fell.

        5. I’m not sure what generation you below to but certainly the younger generations have gone significantly backwards in terms of opportunity and financial security. Perhaps the older generations are sitting pretty but it’s becoming an ever uphill slog for those starting out. I think mfwic summarized the situation well when they said: “Papering over the cracks is exactly how successive governments (of both sides) have used immigration. It gives the illusion of growth and progress.”

  6. It’s the Reserve Bank’s job to control money supply in the economy and they do this mostly through the Official Cash Rate. However, there are no controls over the amount of money been poured into the housing market from outside the country. The Reserve Bank is hopeless in trying to fight this as it cannot constrict the flow of money through basically its one tool interest rates. In fact the higher the interest rates in New Zealand the more attractive of a place it is to invest. Thus, we see housing inflation at rates well beyond the rest of the economy – which is basically in a state of deflation. The Reserve Bank actually needs to reduce interest rates by a significant amount but housing inflation is so high the Reserve Bank does not dare. Which actually means we favour foreign investors over New Zealand investors and owner-occupiers. We in New Zealand already restrict ownership of land such as farms and other strategic assets so it would not be a stretch to apply that to residential land which is the case in so many other countries.

  7. There is also a lazy default thinking by a lot of people that population growth overall is a good thing. But one of the stylised facts they teach in Development Economics is that higher population tends to be associated with lower GDP per person. The reason is simply that the country tends to have a similar level of physical assets divided among more people. New Zealand governments have used net immigration as a means of claiming an overall growth in GDP but really who cares about that? More people will spend more money but that doesn’t make any of us richer. They also use immigration as a means to hold down labour costs (I don’t want to pay a market wage so let me import these workers who I can pay less). And it allows industry to go the low productivity route where they dont have to train anyone to do the next job up the ladder. Dont assume a bigger population is better.

    1. A stylised fact in urban economics is that bigger or denser cities tend to be more productive, which has benefits for both producers (who can access economies of scale and a greater variety of inputs) and consumers (who benefit from a greater variety of goods, services, and unpriced amenities).

      I guess I see the urban economics literature as more relevant to NZ, a wealthy country whose economy is mainly located in three medium-sized cities, than the development economics literature, which is after all focused on developing countries trying to escape the poverty trap.

      1. The data they used wasnt just undeveloped countries. More people means higher GDP but at a lower rate. It is the same old diminishing returns to scale that pop up in almost every field. The result is a lower GDP per person. GDP/person isn’t the only measure of wealth or development but given a choice of high or low most opt for high. Urban economics is more about how you locate the people you have. There is an increasing return to scale for cities (over a limited range of sizes).

  8. Yeah and with a median household income of $78,000 and median house prices of $580,000 its quite obvious that your average NZ is not benefiting from uncontrolled migration. But let them eat cake… and rent.

  9. My perspective on urban growth is that Auckland is on a hiding to nothing by imitating other cities.

    There is an excellent argument that executive pay in NZ does not need to compete with international levels because no international level talent is ever going to come and work in New Zealand. The same logic applies to building a city. Why imitate other cities when we are never going to be able to compete with them? The best thing about living in Auckland is its proximity to natural treasures. The West Coast beaches, Hunua Ranges, Rotorua, Coromandel etc.

    The current approach is seeing a growing number of young Aucklanders leaving the city and relocating to other parts of New Zealand. That is evidence of failed policy, exemplified by high house prices and the social cost of living in undersized building with no back yard.

    Unfortunately our approach to developing Auckland is being driven by a vocal rich, white minority who urgently need an opposition group to keep them in check.

    1. “The best thing about living in Auckland is its proximity to natural treasures.”

      Empirical research (http://www.motu.org.nz/publications/detail/infrastructures_long-lived_impact_on_urban_development_theory_and_empirics1) shows that the best thing about living in New Zealand is living in (or close to) Auckland. Or at least, that’s one of the four factors that have driven people’s location decisions for the last half-century.

      “That is evidence of failed policy…”

      Two questions:
      1. What, exactly, is the “current policy”?
      2. What is your evidence of failed policy? Provide citations.

      “Auckland is on a hiding to nothing by imitating other cities.”

      Yeah, we’d be much better off if were emulating Foxton and Dargaville instead.

      1. I get a real kick out of how so many economic models that take the Cobb-Douglas form because economists know how to integrate that function.

        1. It’s like our inexplicable fondness for log-log regression models. I recently worked through a paper that used a Box-Cox regression model. After seeing so many log-log models my reaction was, basically, “wtf is this voodoo?”

        2. I think there are so many logs just because they approximate a %change and economists just love elasticity. Personally I have never got the bug for a value that changes as you move along a graph. It tells you very little about the shape. Maybe it is because it is a dimensionless number so scaleable the way engineers love Reynolds and Froud numbers.

        3. On the subject of the paper, perhaps they should have tested distance to Tauranga rather than Auckland given that the highest annualised growth rates were Tauranga, Whakatane, Rotorua and Hamilton.

    2. Really, the stats are showing young domestic migration into Auckland, not away. Young migration away from Auckland seems to be toward international cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and London.

    3. “because no international level talent is ever going to come and work in New Zealand”

      Clearly incorrect; I am living proof!

  10. A question for proponents of supporter of population growth is when should it stop?
    Should we have unrestricted growth with 100+ story apartment blocks to accommodate the population? To have a population growing by the millions due to unrestricted growth the housing market would need much bigger apartment blocks. There are enough problems trying to cope with a population increasing in the thousands.

  11. Note the drop in natural increase in the 70’s when “the pill” was introduced by Family Planning first to married women then later early 70’s to unmarried women. Seemed when I was growing up everyone had 3 children, that’s what fitted in the car easily too I guess?! I don’t think the planet will fall apart from population increase if you have good urban planning etc, economies boom etc. I actually think that the loss of natural increase during that time was very harmful to the NZ economy & socially etc etc. Now we have the problem of the baby boomers having to be “supported” by a proportionally smaller young population base. Migration is filling the gap I guess.

  12. Is economic growth something that we should automatically equate with ‘good’ ?

    Unless I missed it, the only defence I could see was that increased population leads to economic growth.

    “My hypothesis is that New Zealand has a strong feedback loop between net migration and economic growth” The author needn’t relegate this to a hypothesis – this is a basic mathematical truth. It is rather like saying that having more men increases your manpower. If we double our population, we will definitely see a massive increase in GDP.

    The question that doesn’t seem to get asked is whether economic growth is actually a good thing for the individuals in an extant population. The abject fear that is instilled by the word ‘recession’ belies the fact that a managed recession can be a good thing – not just after it has happened, but while it is happening.

    Are we really any better off with another flat screen telly, Ipad, or smartphone, afforded to us by increased growth ? Or are we actually better off having 6 hectares each to live in, rather than 3 ? Do we actually kid ourselves that the affordable imported luxury car makes us better off than having an affordable house ?

    GDP on its own is about as meaningless as a number can get. GDP growth in a growing population is equally meaningless. GDP per capita is more meaningful, but still hides any number of quality of life measures.

    1. Hi Antony

      In answer to your question: absolutely not! GDP is one indicator of wellbeing, but it’s certainly not the only or even the best one. In this post, I took a bit of a shortcut in assuming that higher GDP / higher incomes would enable us to get more of the things that we value, including but not limited to goods and services.

      However, I also think that larger urban populations, if accommodated efficiently, can also allow us to get more of the non-monetary things we want. Take, for example, dating. Although prostitution’s legal, most people prefer not to buy romance in the market. Even so, being around more people means you have better odds of meeting someone you’re compatible with.

      If you’re young and single (or old and single), you should _absolutely_ prefer more people to be arriving than leaving. The more that young, mobile people are staying/arriving in NZ cities, the more likely you are to end up in a good relationship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *