Sunday, May 30, 2010
The map above (click for a big version) shows the fraction of housing units that are vacant, as of the 2000 census. Map courtesy of Webfoot. The scale is from 0 to 50%(!) and as you can see, there are parts of the country that were approaching that.
I made this map because one is always hearing about abandoned housing units in Detroit and I wanted to investigate that issue, but it doesn't really show up in the statistics. Instead, the biggest places for home abandonment seem to be rural areas along the northern edge of the eastern side of the country, and then various parts of the mountainous west. I would guess that the big driver here is twenty-five years of mostly lousy farm prices that were falling in real terms. Probably those red regions on the map were agriculturally marginal, and so fell out of production. A few more years of biofuel mandates and some more climate change could turn that around... (at least in the east - the western regions are probably just going to get drier and more agriculturally hopeless).
I'm interested in any other theories that readers have.