Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Urban Economies
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Urban Economies

Edited by Peter Karl Kresl and Jaime Sobrino

In this timely Handbook, seventeen renowned contributors from Asia, the Americas and Europe provide chapters that deal with some of the most intriguing and important aspects of research methodologies on cities and urban economies.
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Chapter 12: Imagining the future of an individual city

John F. McDonald


The task of this chapter is to lay out a framework for imagining the future of an individual city, and then applying that framework to a particular metropolitan area – Chicago. I am an economist, so the chapter concentrates on the economic future. It is presumed that imagining the future means making a reasonably accurate forecast assuming no major shifts in policy, and then imagining how implementation of feasible changes in policy might alter the future. Both the time horizon and level of detail of the future outcomes are left open. Indeed, the two are related in the sense that a short-term forecast and policy analysis can most likely be conducted at a greater level of detail and be more accurate than can an effort that concentrates on the long term. Both kinds of analyses have their uses. Short-term forecasts and related policy scenarios help answer short-term questions, while thinking about the long term provides general guidance on big issues. Forecasts and policy analyses for economies, such as regions and metropolitan areas, which are part of a larger economy assume one of two forms – “bottom up” and “top down”. The bottom up approach is based on detailed study of the small economy and its trends.

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