Urban Issues

Brain Drain Hysteria Breeds Bad Policy

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Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Rust Belt, a region familiar to the air of anxiety, knows this all too well, particularly the “desperate measures” part.

A case in point: During the 1990’s, Pittsburgh, like many of its Rust Belt peers, was in the midst of a fit of brain drain hysteria. Strategic policy was needed. So the powers that be thought of a marketing campaign meant to saturate the minds of the educated “young and the restless” who were thinking about exiting the Steel City.  read more »

New Zealand Seeks to Avoid "Generation Rent"


The political leadership and others in New Zealand are talking about the consequences of its land use policies. Under the "urban containment" land use policy (also called by terms like "smart growth," "growth management," and "livability") in effect in every urban area, house prices have doubled relative to incomes over the last 25 years.  read more »


RIP, NYC's Middle Class: Why Families are Being Pushed Away From the City


Mayor de Blasio has his work cut out for him if he really wants to end New York’s “tale of two cities.” Gotham has become the American capital of a national and even international trend toward greater income inequality and declining social mobility.

There are things the new mayor can do to help, but the early signs aren’t promising that he will be able to reverse 30 years of the hollowing out of the city’s once vibrant middle class.  read more »

Affordable Cities are the New Sweet Spots


I’ve lived in San Francisco long enough (I’m getting old) that I’ve seen several waves of bright young people arrive, burn out, then move away. For some they were looking for adventure, found it, and then carried on with normal life elsewhere. But for most it was simply a matter of the numbers not adding up. Working a dead end low wage job while sharing a two bedroom apartment with seven room mates is only romantic for so long. I’m fairly inquisitive so I’ve kept up with many of these folks to see how they manage after they leave. I travel a lot and pop in to visit on occasion.  read more »

Southern Indiana is More Than Just a Great View of Louisville


As part of a small project I’m doing in Southern Indiana, I spent two days touring around Clark and Floyd Counties to see what was up. As a guy who grew up in the area, it was great to get to see a lot of the positive things that have been occurring there. While perhaps places like New Albany and Jeffersonville might be considered small cities, the Southern Indiana portion of the Louisville metro area has about 280,000 people and is integrated into the larger regional economy.  read more »


A Newer Geography of Jobs: Where Workers with Advanced Degrees Are Concentrating the Fastest


This is a new report brief from the Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University, download the pdf version here. The report was authored by Richey Piiparinen, Jim Russell, and Charlie Post.  read more »

Should the Gas Tax Go Local?

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After approving yet another general budget stopgap for highway construction in July, legislators across the country are acknowledging the obvious: The Federal Highway Trust Fund, the primary pot of federal roadway dollars, is nearly out of gas.  read more »

How Segregated Is New York City?

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The online reaction to the reports on racial segregation in New York state’s public schools reminded me, yet again, that most people think of New York as an integrated city, and are surprised or incredulous when that impression is contradicted.  read more »

The Unrest In Hong Kong And China's Bigger Urban Crisis


The current protests in Hong Kong for democracy reflects only part of the issues facing Chinese cities, as they grow and become ever more sophisticated. In just four decades, China has gone from 17.4 percent to 55.6 percent urban, adding nearly 600 million city residents. And this process is far from over: United Nations projections indicate that over the next 20 years, China’s urban population will increase by 250 million, even as national population growth rates slow and stall.  read more »

Opportunity Urbanism: Creating Cities for Upward Mobility


This is the introduction to a new report commissioned by the Greater Houston Parnership and HRG and authored by Joel Kotkin with help from Tory Gattis, Wendell Cox, and Mark Schill. Download the full report (pdf) here.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed the emergence of a new urban paradigm that both maximizes growth and provides greater upward mobility. We call this opportunity urbanism, an approach that focuses largely on providing the best policy environment for both businesses and individuals to pursue their aspirations.  read more »