I am in rainy Berkeley attending a OECD Roundtable on Transportation, Urban Form and Economic Growth. There are roughly 50 participants and the group includes economists, urban planners, sociologists, political scientists and others. Such a diverse "Noah's Ark" offers benefits and costs. The major benefit is that I'm learning from the non-economists and several of my friends (the economists) are here.
The cost is that the discussion across groups is strange and meandering.
There are interesting public policy issues at stake here. If Europe's cities had lower gasoline taxes or invested even more in fast clean public transit, how would this affect urban form? How would this affect "vehicle dependence"? What is the relationship between urban form and economic growth. Some economists here have argued that in cities where you can commute at faster speeds that workers are more likely to be matched with their best job because they will have a wider choice set.