Friday, June 07, 2013

The Magic of Cities

Friday fun at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Concerning urban innovation and productivity, density versus migration.

Subject Article: "The Real Reason Cities Are Centers of Innovation."

Other Links: 1. "Density Versus Migration."
2. "Urban characteristics attributable to density-driven tie formation."
3. "Launching Low-Income Entrepreneurs."
4. "Bowling Alone Urbanism."
5. "The Emergence of the 'Super-Commuter.'”
6. "America’s Great Job Creators: Immigrant Entrepreneurs - long version featuring the 'app economy.'”

Postscript: Over the last few months, I've been wrestling with the hypothesis that migration matters more than density and population. I'm not weighing issues of sustainability. Why are cities places where "opportunities and ideas and wealth seem to grow at a more powerful rate than a simple sum of all our numbers?" The key seems to be how a city handles the massive influx of migrants, not density in and of itself. More from the Atlantic Cities article:

In some African cities and Eastern mega-cities, innovation and productivity don’t grow super-linearly. Populations grow, but the benefits don’t accrue with them as we would expect. This is likely because transportation infrastructure in those places is so poor that people aren’t able to connect across town to each other. "To live on the west side of Beijing," Pan says, you never go to the east side."

The density is there without the benefits. Parochialism, isolation, acts as a drag on potential knowledge transfer that stems from migration. It's all about the flow, Las Vegas.

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