This past Sunday, the thesis of a provocative article in the New York Times---“One Path to Better Jobs: More Density in Cities”---is simply “when it comes to economic growth and the creation of jobs, the denser the city the better.” The author presents evidence that workers in denser places earn higher wages and are more productive. He takes San Francisco to task for a “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) attitude that squeezed housing costs, ultimately driving jobs away and slowing wages. He concedes that at times the NIMBY approach can support a “high quality” of life, but that the ultimate effect is to make such places more “exclusive”. He also says that density is not “a magic elixir”, but that it facilitates the interactions that “translate into wealth when a population is educated and local institutions support private enterprise and entrepreneurship”.
The article focuses on large cities, so it may have limited lessons for Arlington. But it should be asked what should be considered at scale?