Thursday, June 23, 2011

Empty Places

I mostly agree with Matt Yglesias on the general question of immigration, but the exercise in seeing how many people the US could hold if everywhere (but Alaska and Hawaii, I guess) had the population density of New Jersey reminds me again how NY-provincial Yglesias can be sometimes. I'm very proud of my native Arizona, but really, it's hard to picture very many people wanting to move to large parts of AZ, NM, NV, and UT...and plenty of California isn't exactly human-friendly, either.

Now, granted, you can keep getting the density of Arizona to increase by packing more and more people into Phoenix, and there doesn't seem to be any limit to that process. Except for the big one that applies to all the places I'm listing here: water.

I know, it was just a fun exercise...and who knows, as demand increases perhaps someone will figure out the technology fix that'll allow 30M or 40M to live in the Phoenix metro area without the whole thirst problem (it would take over 100M to match New Jersey's density). And as I said, I agree with the larger point. Couldn't let this one pass, though.


  1. Good point. You know why 86% of Nevada is owned by the federal government? No one wants to buy it.

  2. Like everyone else, you took Yglesias too literally. His point was just that the country can fit a lot more people without becoming intolerably crowded. Not that it would actually be desirable or even workable for the whole country to reach NJ's density level. Look at the title of his post, for crying out loud. Then look at his graph. America is more than 3 billion people short of reaching NJ density levels. We don't need to stuff any more people into Phoenix. It'll suffice to stuff some more into, say, Vermont. (That place could use some de-whitening, too.)


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