People say that suburban and exurban housing growth is offset by a move to the cities. Wendell Cox looks at empirical data to prove that this is not the case, and deduces that people still tend to move to suburbia when they relocate.
Land Use in the Lower 48: NRI Estimates
"The National Resources Inventory (NRI), conducted by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in cooperation with Iowa State University, is an alternative source of estimated changes in land use for the contiguous 48 States. While the NRI does not account for all land use (Federal land and Alaska are omitted) and does not use the same definitions or data gathering procedures as the Major Land Uses series, it samples individual points on the landscape and collects a range of information on soil types and other physical characteristics. Between 1982 and 1997, the NRI repeatedly sampled the same points every 5 years, allowing the construction of land-use transition matrixes. Transition matrixes specify where each inventoried change in land use came from and where it went. Since the 1997 survey, the NRI has sampled a smaller number of points on an annual basis. Based on the new annual sample, NRCS provides annual estimates of national land use and summary information on selected land-use transitions."
"The NRI indicates a net decline in cultivated and uncultivated cropland area of 8 million acres between 1997 and 2002 (table 3). During this period, there were larger shifts of land both into and out of the cropland category. Lands shifting into cropland from another use over 1997-2001 totaled 16.6 million acres, with half of the new cropland transitioning from pasture uses, 35 percent from CRP acreage, and 15 percent from all other uses. From 1997 to 2001, lands exiting the cropland category totaled 23.3 million, with 43 percent of the land shifting to pasture, 32 percent to CRP, 8 percent to developed uses, and the remaining 17 percent to all other use categories. Based on NRI data, the overall change in forest area from 1997 to 2001 was not statistically different than zero. However, this apparent lack of change masks larger flows of land to and from the forest category. Approximately 7.4 million acres of land transitioned to forests from 1997 to 2001, with 53 percent of the land coming from pasture, 16 percent from cropland, and 31 percent from other uses. At the same time, about 7.2 million acres of forest lands transitioned to other uses, with 57 percent of the land shifting to urban development, 17 percent to cropland, and 26 percent to other uses (USDA/NRCS, 2003)."
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