Mastering the metropolis through research and thought leadership.
Working Papers

Why Government Planning Always Fails

Working paper #652
Randal O'Toole

Long-range, comprehensive government planning does more harm than good, especially when planners attempt to plan private property. Long-range planning fails because success requires the accuracy of future forecasts. Those forecasts can never be accurate, yet special interest groups lock the government into the plans. Comprehensive planning fails because the areas being planned are simply too complicated for anyone to understand. Government planning of private property fails because planners have no incentives to find the optimal use of other people’s property. Government planning can work if it focuses on the short-run, the narrow missions of agencies managing such things as sewers, roads, or recreation areas, and if the agencies receive feedback, such as user fees, that rewards them for doing the right thing and penalizes them for doing the wrong thing. When stretched beyond these limits, government planning is a danger to a nation’s freedom and economic health.

Download full paper · 1MB PDF

In This Section
Explore Topics

1010 Affordable Housing Amazon Amenitization Architecture Artificial Intelligence Asia Australia automation Autonomous Vehicles bonds Borrowing Constraints Brexit California Canada Capital Business China Co-Working Environment coastal markets cold storage Colombia Commercial Brokerage Commercial Real Estate commissions Congestion consumer bias covid-19 CRE credit card market Credit Default Swaps Credit Insurance Credit Risk Transfers Culture Data Analytics data centers Data Collection Technology Debt Market Demand Demographics Density Development Discrete Choice disruption Diversity drones e-Commerce Economic Corridors economic policy economics education election studies Equity Funds Equity Market Ethnic Factors Europe Fannie Mae financial asset management Foreclosures Foreign Policy France Freddie Mac general equilibrium Global global economy Global Financial Crisis Globalization great depression Great Recession healthy buildings Hedonic hospitality Housing & Residential housing boom Housing Disease housing prices Housing Supply Identity Income Inequality India inflation Inter-generational mobility interest rates Investing jobs labor market Lagging Regions land use regulation Language life sciences Macroeconomics malls Market Pricing megacities Microeconomics Migration Minimum Payments Mixed-Use Mobility moral hazard mortgage insurance mortgage market Mortgage Rates Mortgages Multi-family Nation Building Non-Traditional Mortgages Office Market office sector pension funds Placed Based Policies Political Risk Price Discovery Private Equity Business public health public policy Public Schools real estate brokerage Real Estate Investment Real Estate Investment Trusts Recession Rental Retail Retirement reverse mortgages Risk Adjustment risk management risk-shifting robotics single family housing Slums Sorting South America Spatial Regions spillover effect stimulus package Sub-Prime Mortgages Supply Chains Sustainability Technology telecommunications trade transportation unemployment United States Urban Urbanization Warehouse welfare work from home