Urban Issues

Small Cities Are Becoming a New Engine Of Economic Growth


The conventional wisdom is that the world’s largest cities are going to be the primary drivers of economic growth and innovation. Even slums, according to a fawning article in National Geographic, represent “examples of urban vitality, not blight.” In America, it is commonly maintained by pundits that “megaregions” anchored by dense urban cores will dominate the future.

Such conceits are, not surprisingly, popular among big city developers and the media in places like New York, which command the national debate by blaring the biggest horn. However, a less fevered analysis of recent trends suggests a very different reality: When it comes to growth, economic and demographic, opportunity increasingly is to be found in smaller, and often remote, places.  read more »

The OECD Reviews Chicago


“Although still high in absolute terms, GDP and labor productivity growth rates are sluggish – both by US and international standards. The Chicago Tri-State metro-region’s contribution to national growth has slowed over the past decade and the region does not stand out as a top knowledge hub. Despite a dynamic and numerically large labor force, the region has experienced virtually no growth in the size of its prime working-age population and displays limited ability to attract and retain talent when compared to its US peers. More worrisome are the persistence of unemployment and the lack of sufficient job creation.” – OECD Territorial Review, The Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area  read more »

Is Negative Population Growth Upon Us? Deaths Exceed Births in One Third of U.S. Counties


Population change has short run and long run effects. Short run effects include changes in fertility rates that can result from economic fluctuations. For example, during a recession, couples may delay having children until economic conditions improve.  Once job growth has begun and expectations rise, birthrates can increase The correlation is not perfect and other demographic factors could come into play.     read more »

Australian Elections: A Comeback for Pro-growth Policy?


The latest local government elections in Queensland, along with the by election for former Premier Anna Bligh’s state seat of South Brisbane, may point to a fundamental shift in popular mood back in favour of growth and development. After many years of anti-growth policy paranoia, it’s a refreshing wind if it lasts.  read more »

World Urban Areas Population and Density: A 2012 Update


The latest edition of Demographia World Urban Areas has just been released. The publication includes population estimates, urban land area estimates and urban densities for all nearly 850 identified urban areas in the world with a population of 500,000 or more. These urban areas account for approximately 48% of the world's urban population. Overall, data is provided for approximately 1500 urban areas, comprising approximately 1.9 billion people, or 52% of the world's urban population.  read more »

The Best Cities for Jobs 2012


Throughout the brutal recession, one metropolitan area floated serenely above the carnage: Washington, D.C.  Buoyed by government spending, the local economy expanded 17% from 2007 to 2012. But for the first time in four years, the capital region has fallen out of the top 15 big cities in our annual survey of the best places for jobs, dropping to 16th place from fifth last year.  read more »

Understanding Chongqing and the Fall of Bo Xilai


The demise of Bo Xilai, the former Party Secretary of Chongqing, has turned into one of the biggest political scandals in China in recent memory and now includes allegations that Bo’s wife Gu Kailai is connected to the murder of a British businessman close to Bo’s family. It is even rumored the businessman, Neil Heywood, may have had an affair with Gu.  read more »

Staying the Same: Urbanization in America


The recent release of the 2010 US census data on urban areas (Note 1) shows that Americans continue to prefer their lower density lifestyles, with both suburbs and exurbs (Note 2) growing more rapidly than the historic core municipalities.  This may appear to be at odds with the recent Census Bureau 2011 metropolitan area population estimates, which were widely mischaracterized as indicating exurban (and suburban) losses and historical core municipality gains.  read more »

Homebuilding: Recovery & Red Tape

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The Recovery Blueprint is a multipart series of articles that offers suggestions on how to recover from the homebuilding recession.

Since the recession began, there haven't been any significant changes in how regulations could be improved to energize the housing market and foster innovation. Three areas where big regulation changes are needed? Environmental subsidies, density requirements, and zoning laws.  read more »

Goodbye, Chicago


Odd as it may seem for someone known as The Urbanophile, I actually grew up in the countryside. I spent most of my childhood on a country road about four miles outside the town of Laconia, Indiana, population 50.  I always used to get confused when John Cougar sang about living in a small town, because I knew he was from Seymour, and with over 15,000 people that seemed a big town in my book.  read more »