I'm turning back to the Newsweek issue on urban growth patterns after reading a post about the David Dollar article on Thomas Barnett's blog. Since Barnett name drops, I figure it is okay for me to do so. I first encountered Dr. Dollar, an economist at the World Bank, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was presenting some research to us graduate students, in an NSF funded program titled Globalization and Democratization (GAD), about the benefits of economic globalization. I came away as impressed as Barnett with Dollar's work.
In Newsweek, Dollar investigates the astounding growth of cities in China. Of interest to this blog is the tendency of cities that were yesterday's "industrial backwaters" to be today's economic powerhouses. As for the established industrial centers, they are not faring as well. The best governmental practices are found in the newer urban areas, where innovation and ideas thrive. Dollar points out that the industry in the older cities "tended to protect what they had and reform less aggressively."
I'm hypothesizing that something similar is occurring in the United States. Cities such as Austin, TX and Charlotte, NC have offered a frontier opportunity akin to the one observed in the boomtowns of China. On the other hand, Pittsburgh stagnates. Governmental reform is key for attracting investment and stimulating growth. This is unlikely to happen in Western Pennsylvania, leaving this region at the rear of economic globalization.