The real driver of regional inequality in America

America in the Gilded Age was a starkly unequal place, not just in terms of inequality between people but inequality between regions. Long-settled, fast-industrializing states in the Northeast were far richer than those of the West or the South, which had many fewer factories, railroads, and other kinds of capital goods that allowed for productive work and high wages. But around 1880 that began to change, and for 100 years, income gaps between states slowly converged at a rate of about 1.8 percent per year.

But since 1980, that process has began to slow, and over the past decade it’s essentially stopped entirely. Today, Massachusetts’s GDP per capita is about double what you find in Mississippi — roughly equivalent to the gap between Switzerland and Slovakia — and it’s not getting any narrower.

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Making cities more dense always sparks resistance. Here’s how to overcome it.

Urban density, done well, has all kinds of benefits. On average, people who live in dense, walkable areas tend to be physically healthier, happier, and more productive. Local governments pay less in infrastructure costs to support urbanites than they to support suburbanites. Per-capita energy consumption is lower in dense areas, which is good for air pollution and climate change.

Plus, dense, walkable areas tend to be buzzy and culturally vibrant. There’s a reason they are often so expensive to live in — lots of people want to live there. Demand exceeds supply.

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California lawmakers have tried for 50 years to fix the state's housing crisis. Here's why they've failed

After an hour of debate, Herb Perez had had enough.

Perez, a councilman in the Bay Area suburb of Foster City, was tired of planning for the construction of new homes to comply with a 50-year-old state law designed to help all Californians live affordably.

Everyone knows, Perez told the crowd at a 2015 City Council meeting, that the law is a failure. It requires cities and counties to develop plans every eight years for new home building in their communities. After more than a year of work and spending nearly $50,000, Foster City had an 87-page housing plan that proposed hundreds of new homes, mapped where they would go and detailed the many ways the city could help make the construction happen. But a crucial element was missing: Foster City was never going to approve all the building called for in the voluminous proposal, Perez said.

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