chapter  6
24 Pages

Urban success and the creative class

New perspectives on urban success have developed from the simple observation that people vote with their feet and move to the places with the best amenity and the strongest labour market. This is something that has always been a possibility, but it has tended to be dismissed for two main reasons. The freedom of people to move from areas of relative economic distress to areas of relative economic buoyancy is held back by the devaluation of personal assets in a declining region. This can apply to physical assets such as property as well as to the worth of work skills and experience where they are linked to a declining sector of activity. Entry barriers have been a second reason for believing that the distribution of population adjusts sluggishly to the changing geography of opportunity. Access to job opportunities in a growing region is constrained by housing shortages and the pressure on urban infrastructure. The successful city may offer better long term economic prospects than a lagging locality but immediately it may mean acceptance of reduced living space, increased commuting effort and broken social networks. From the perspective of the economy as a whole, the value of relieving infrastructure pressure in the local economies that are growing is balanced against the underutilized resources in the localities that people move from. Hence the focus of regional policy in the past on moving jobs to the people rather than people to the jobs (Chapter 3 Box 3.3).