Summary and conclusions
The principal argument of this book is that in the context of technological change, fi scal crisis among developed economies, and globalization, it is cities and urban regions that have emerged as the central actors and the central fi eld of play when it comes to competitiveness. In many countries in excess of 60 percent of the population lives in urban areas and in excess of 75 percent of economic activity occurs there, so that competitiveness of the national economy is essentially the competitiveness of its major urban centers. Hence the study of urban competitiveness and the policy measures that both help and hinder it are of crucial importance. With this understanding we have presented in this volume the current state of knowledge on this subject. To this end we discussed the current global context in which urban economies must function and how it is likely to evolve in the near future. This led to a discussion of what urban competitiveness is and how one can capture it in a way that lends itself to formulation of policies that will enhance it. Then we examined some aspects of the general condition of cities and of the local conditions that govern their economic development. Finally, in three chapters we examined a sampling of cities in North America and in Europe that have succeeded and others that have failed to become competitive or to maintain their competitiveness in a rather turbulent environment, and the attempts, with varying degrees of success, to measure the relative competitiveness of cities in these regions.