Making Sense of Urban Density, Death Rates & Dispersion with Wendell Cox
In this episode of the Feudal Future podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky interview one of their longtime collaborators, Wendell Cox. He is an expert in urban policy, focusing much of his work on demographics and transportation, and he joins Joel and Marshall for a conversation on the COVID-19 pandemic, death rates, and public policy.
The first topic of the conversation is a chart Wendell explains correlating death rates from COVID-19 and urban density rates. Wendell describes the significance of urban density, specifically as it contrasts with county density. Urban density is associated with overcrowding in close spaces, and highlights the need not only for social distancing, but also for good ventilation. The group considers the possible reasons behind a seemingly low death rate in Manhattan, the issue of dense housing, and how various parts of California fare on the chart.
Next, the group considers implications of the issues of density and death represented by Wendell’s chart. They think about possible policy changes to come, and Wendell argues that we need to avoid full lockdown as we move forward in order to avoid bringing more ruin to the economy. Rather than locking down, we ought to specify our problem areas and target them. Further, rather than making the politically correct move of denying the problem of density, we need to look our situation in the face, figure out what’s happening, and take action to address it.
The group talks through what changes may be needed in the days ahead. There are issues to address with regard to building codes and transit systems. There are also major questions to answer about how to move cities – such as the majorly impacted city of New York – toward recovery. Wendell instructs Marshall and Joel in how to think about the example of Asian cities, speaks with them about how various cities in the US are faring now and how they may move forward, and emphasizes the need for cities to consider where people are going.
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