Quality of Life Found to Rise With Residential Growth
A new study from researchers at NAHB challenges the assumption of local zoning officials that residential development is detrimental to the quality of life in their community.
Using two sources of data for their analysis, the NAHB researchers clearly showed that there is a positive correlation between growth and the quality of life.
“Many local decisions made by officials concerning growth and development” are based on the perception that additional growth will deteriorate the quality of life, the study says. “Elaborate public policy initiatives, such as impact fees, urban service boundaries and mandatory land conservation are designed and implemented in order to mitigate the ‘negative consequences of growth’ and to ‘preserve quality of life.’
“All too often, the many benefits of growth — such as job creation, increased cultural and educational facilities, transportation improvements and improved health care facilities — are overlooked within the context of considering further development.”
The study correlated housing starts per capita in 260 metropolitan areas collected from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2000-2003 with a quality index compiled by well-known researcher Bert Sperling.
This chart illustrates the positive correlation between growth
and quality of life as determined in the NAHB study.
The publication “2004 Best Places — Cities Ranked and Rated” was produced by Sperling, and in 1986 he also produced the very first rankings of Money magazine’s “Best Places to Live.” His quality index is based on hundreds of local data in such areas as education, health care, transportation, jobs and crime.
Researchers at NAHB conducted a simple correlation analysis by comparing the quality of life index and growth index, with each metro area represented as a point on a graph. The result shows a line of rising quality of life as per capita growth increases.
“While local governments have a responsibility to respond to the needs of their citizens by utilizing local land use tools such as zoning, they need to apply those tools with a better understanding that improvements to their community also occur through growth and development,” the study says.
For more information, e-mail David Crowe at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8383.