New from The Atlantic: Because place matters.

A Tale of Two Townhouses

The Editors

Comparing housing prices in Los Angeles and Dallas, the author finds that Angelenos pay a premium for the right to build on their land -- that is to say, on "bureaucratic delays, density restrictions, fees, political contributions." The result: houses that cost roughly $300,000 more than their equivalent in Texas. 

"The unintended consequence of these land-use policies is that Americans are sorting themselves geographically by income and lifestyle--not across neighborhoods, as they used to, but across regions," Ms. Postrel writes. "People are more likely to live surrounded by others like themselves, creating a more-polarized cultural map." In this way, real estate may be as important as religion in explaining the infamous gap between red and blue states.

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