Sunday, November 10, 2013

A case of bad social engineering in China

In the 1960s many Western countries built large numbers of high flats. There was need for more housing and this was the cheapest way to provide that. Of course the houses had no gardens, but for the rest they were quite large and quite decently built. Yet soon these areas became problem areas and many still are. People who could afford it left and those remaining found themselves living in a high crime area. And as no one felt connected to them those quarters soon decayed - both the houses and the environment.

It was just one example of bad social engineering - people trying to design an environment for other people to live in.

Now the Chinese government has engaged in a similar experiment: it is building complete new cities and forcing people to live there. Predictably many people don't like this and employment fails to arrive. The result is once again desolate areas where no one likes to live.

It would be a much better policy if the Chinese government seduced some companies with subsidies and facilities to move to those areas. That would allow for a much more organic growth of those cities.

Postscript: The Chinese government has now announced a list of 60 reforms that it wants to introduce. Given how badly the Chinese government is implementing the urbanization I am rather pessimistic that it will do better on those other reforms.

No comments: