Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/495

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495
INCREASE OF AMERICAN LAND VALUES

THE INCREASE OF AMERICAN LAND VALUES
By Dr. SCOTT NEARING
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

SO much has been said and written regarding the theoretical importance attaching to the rise of land values that the student of economics looks eagerly for some collection of facts which shall in a measure substantiate the numerous theories advanced. To his consternation he discovers, after a careful examination of economic literature, that little of importance has appeared on the subject. The fundamental significance of land value increases is conceded in every land, yet, with the exception of farm land values, there has apparently been no systematic attempt to discover the extent of the land value increases. Although an examination of the available facts has convinced the writer that the time is not yet ripe for an authoritative statement, the data at hand do indicate rather clearly the trend in land valuation.

Land values, in so far as they relate to the present discussion, may be conveniently grouped as follows:


1. The value of lands containing minerals and fuels.
2. The value of water rights.
3. Timber land values.
4. Farm values.

5. Urban land values.

Mineral land values and the value of water rights may be dismissed with a word. Repeated inquiries directed to state officials, to the federal authorities, to trade journals and to prominent engineers, failed to elicit any response worthy of consideration. Indeed, one of the most prominent mining engineers in the country goes so far as to write:

I have no reliable information to give you as to the extent to which mineral land values have increased during recent years. Mineral lands become valuable only with favorable developments, and do not rise in value in conformity with laws determining values of other kinds of property.

The editor of The Engineering and Mining Journal (Mr. Walter E. Ingalls) writes (January 9, 1913):

We have not compiled any data regarding the increase in the value of mineral lands, and do not, in fact, see how any such data that would be worth anything could be compiled.

The State Mining Board of Illinois, in a somewhat more optimistic mood regarding the statistical possibilities, writes (December 19, 1912):