Edited by David Emanuel Andersson, Åke E. Andersson and Charlotta Mellander
Peter Gordon and Sanford Ikeda Well-educated professionals and creative workers who live together in dense ecosystems, interacting directly, generate ideas and turn them into products and services faster than talented people in other places can. (Richard Florida, 2009) Since World War II, economic and demographic forces, possibly along with the consequences of earlier housing and infrastructural policies,1 have flattened the populationdensity gradient in metropolitan areas across the United States, while presumably reducing the vitality and dense social networks associated with most traditional city centres. In response, planning ideologies that are hostile to ‘unplanned’, low-density development and that seek to promote high-density, pedestrian- and environmentally friendly communities have been developed to combat these trends. But do scholars who study cities even understand the nature of cities well enough to formulate policies that impact cities in a positive way? Economists do know that institutions matter, that human capital is important, and it is almost a cliché that cities are ‘engines of growth’. All three of these views are thought to involve prompting the cultivation of ideas that contribute to entrepreneurship and innovation. But is our understanding of the relationship among cities, human capital and economic development sufficient to effectively guide top-down urban and regional planning? We argue that the work of F.A. Hayek and Jane Jacobs strongly suggests the answer is ‘no’. Specifically, studies at the metro level that purport to show a positive correlation between density and economic growth, and between density and the migration patterns of creative types, do...
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