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Metropolitan Growth: Three Ideas in Search of Evidence

Abstract : Three principal theories of urban success are prominent among policy-makers today. The first holds that “global cities” are more successful than other cities, though they also have many problems that come from being globally-connected. A second theory asserts that having a higher “quality of life” is somehow a factor in urban economic success. And a third notion is that cities with more “creativity” perform better than cities that are less creative. Each of these notions has very serious problems when it comes to specifying their definitions and the indicators appropriate to them. More importantly, it is not clear that any of them explains regional economic growth and change. In this paper, we show that none of them has much success in explaining per capita income or overall growth rates of cities. The first two are almost entirely irrelevant, while the third, though corresponding better to per capita income, appears upon closer examination to offer little explanatory insight. Policy-makers should therefore beware of attempting to apply any of these theories. That they are so prevalent suggests in addition that scholarly research on comparative urban growth and development needs a major overhaul.
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Michael Storper. Metropolitan Growth: Three Ideas in Search of Evidence. Fudan University Conference on "Diversity and Dynamics of Globalizing City-Region: Asian (Shanghai) and European (German) Cases Compared", May 2008, Université Fudan, Shanghai, China. ⟨hal-03415849⟩



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