Essay about Are Cities Dying?

10816 Words 44 Pages
Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 12, Number 2—Spring 1998—Pages 139-160
Are Cities Dying?
Edward L. Glaeser
Is the city dying? Professional seers, such as Richard Naisbitt and Alvin Toffler, have argued that information technology is rapidly making the need for faceto- face contact juid cities obsolete. Experts on the inner city see inevitable urban decay when they note that 16.7 percent of families in cities with greater than one million inhabitants live below the poverty line (compsired to 10 percent of families across the entire United States) and that the probability of being victimized by crime within a six-month period is 21.7 percent in a city with more thjui one million inhabitants (compared to 9.4 percent among
…show more content…
senators. Local governments are far more crucial to the fate of cities; cities are now being better governed. The quixotic attempts of localities to redistribute income appeju- to have finally ended. A variety of further policy changes (particularly school vouchers) could probably do much to save decaying urban areas.
The ultimate prognosis for cities depends on whether the changes in the benefits accruing to cities from informational spillovers and the division of labor will be greater than the changes in the congestion and social costs of cities. I beheve that the death of the city is far from imminent. The demand for interaction is certainly rising and face-to-face interaction is not close to being supplanted by its electronic competitors. Few of the costs of urban life appear to be rising too dramatically. However, unless particular policy choices are implemented, it appears likely that many older cities will continue their decline into becoming decrepit centers of poverty.
What Is a City?
Technically, the Census defines a "city" as a urban political unit that generally contains more than 25,000 individuals. Measured increases in urbanization just mean increases in the share of the population living in these political units. Since these political units are often seen as relatively arbitrary, the Bureau of the Census created the Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a multi-county unit usually meant to capture a local economic

Related Documents