chapter  4
48 Pages

Land values

When enlightened absolutism accompanied Europe’s rulers into modernity, a new science emerged. In Austria and Germany, the scientific analysis of good government was called Policey-Wissenschaft. Between the 18th and the end of the 19th century, Policey-Wissenschaft branched out into political philosophy, political economy, legal studies, sociology, statistics, political geography, public hygiene, and other fields of public policy. Spatial planning and land policy can be traced back to Policey-Wissenschaft. The enlightened monarch, eager to discover the precepts of good government, learned about the fundamental values of land uses. In 1760, Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi published two volumes of Policey-Wissenschaft, dedicated to the power and bliss (Glückseligkeit) of the government:

Von Justi, underestimated for his contributions to political economy (Backhaus 2009) by many, defines efficient land use as one goal of land policy. Much has changed since he offered his advice. Political systems have changed. The capitalist mode of production and the networks of knowledge society have replaced simple agrarian economies. Land use technologies have exceeded what enlightened absolute rulers could only dream of. What has not changed, however, is the weight of von Justi’s advice: Good government depends on good land policy, and good land policy inspires better land uses. Of course, von Justi understood that his advice required an appraisal of land values. Policymakers can improve land uses only if they know which land uses are good or, at least, better than other uses. The value of land became the litmus test for land policy.