The Rural Economy of New England: A Regional Study

By John Donald Black | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 29
Recreational Use of Land

We now turn to the third in order of the major land uses in New England -- recreation. Maybe it should be accorded first place, as by the New England Council in occasional press releases. One such statement before the war gave it ranking only second to manufacturing of all of New England's enterprise. The ranking, of course, depends upon how much is included, particularly whether both urban and rural are included. It also depends upon how it is measured -- whether in acres of land, or number of persons using the land, or how much they use it, or total investment, or gross income derived from it, or how much of income is spent upon it. It also depends upon what is counted as recreation. Is all the money spent on Coney Island recreational spending? or just commercial amusement? Is one engaged in recreation when one is driving the family from New York City to spend a week end in the Green Mountains? How much is recreational spending of the money spent by a family during the summer months while living at its summer place in Maine?

Recreation is ordinarily spoken of by economists as a form of direct consumption -- like eating and dancing -- as distinguished from production which creates a product or service for someone else to consume or to use in further production. This distinction is of value in very few connections. Ordinarily a large amount of labor and capital must be expended upon recreation land before it yields its satisfactions to the consumer -- roads must be built to reach it, trains, busses and automobiles to travel in, hotels and cabins to rest in. The food must be prepared and served. The capital value of the recreational facilities localized in New England is probably fully as much the result of investment of labor and money in structures and improvement as in the case of land used in agriculture and forestry.

The reader must be warned not to expect any detailed fact or analysis in

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