When Young People Need the Elevator

An e-mail from Brazil:

My name is Mauricio Castro, I have a social communications degree and teach interface design and multimedia systems.

I have a story I’d like to share with you guys.

I live in a nice neighborhood in the city of Vitória, Brazil. Being close to the beach, the city code forbids tall buildings in order to maintain sunlight in the sand all time. The maximum floor number is three.

So it’s only natural that most buildings here don’t have elevators. Even some new ones are presented only with stairs, especially those built for the younger customers.

So I went to the health clinic the other day and the nurse was telling me about the rising numbers of youngsters suffering from strokes. There are lots of explanations for these numbers rising, but mostly lifestyle and drug abuse.

Now, the real Freakonomics side of the story it that the number of people suffering from strokes is affecting the real estate market. Because those people are advised against using stairs after the strokes, they are migrating to other neighborhoods, where taller buildings are sure to have elevators.

Who would have thought of that?

Not sure how believable I find this but it does share one trait with the best unintended-consequences stories: as bizarre as the result may seem at first glance, upon inspection it makes perfect sense.

Rob R.

They just want the fat, unhealthy people to move away from/get off the beaches.

Eric M. Jones.

Cute, but I don't believe it. House near the beach for sale cheap? Where do I send my money? The stroke victims who are moving might just as well move to the suburbs without elevators.

What are they smoking?


Well, there are a lot of cheap houses near the beach in Brazil. Just forget about Rio and the larger cities.

If you are willing to live in a smaller town, where infrastructure (hospitals, schools, public transportation, telecommunications) lacks, you surely can live very close to the beach and pay very little in comparison to most of the developed world.


Have the first floor apartments near the beach gone up in price compared to second and third floor? I wonder how that relates to the price of whatever drug these people are abusing that is causing all these strokes.

Stroker Ace

Wouldn't this drive prices up in buildings with elevators? Sounds like a wash, yes?

Seems like this was an attempt to find a story with an interesting hook, when there is no real proof. At least label it as a theory, and then we can discuss its merits in a proper way.

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Even a large increase in a rare event won't have as much effect as a common event. I'd bet that the increasing number of frail elderly people has a much bigger effect than the fraction of young people who have had strokes.