chapter  8
20 Pages

Brawn to brain

Rustbelt, Southern, and Southeastern Sunbelt metropolitan cities
ByJessie P. H. Poon, Wei Yin

The story of Rustbelt cities in the Northeast is well-known: historically, they were centers of growth and prosperity, heavyweights in the nation's industrial output, and gravities of innovation and skill. This chapter documents the role of human capital in Rustbelt cities' resurgence. Employing a comparative analysis with Sunbelt cities, the chapter points to a variegated landscape where certain old industrial cities have managed to build or retain a stock of human capital despite profound shifts in the geography of production. Rustbelt-Sunbelt divergence of the 1970s took place at a time when cities in the South and Southeast embarked on urban development programs, expanded interstate highways, and fomented a favorable business climate that included the right to work. The human capital level is comparable to Southern and Southeastern Sunbelt cities. The average human capital level is higher in the Rustbelt than the Southern Sunbelt in 2010. There are signs that brain divergence between the Rustbelt and Sunbelt may be narrowing.