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For decades now, professionals and academic experts have been predicting the death of American urban areas due to advancements in social technologies and the persistence of high levels of crime and poverty within cities. Edward Glaeser, professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, explores the future prospects of metropolitan cities in his 1998 research paper “Are Cities Dying?” published in The Journal of Economic Perspectives. The purpose of Glaeser’s research was to understand the costs and benefits of urban life and determine whether the costs of congestive forces associated with cities were beginning to outweigh the positive agglomerating effects. Only when cities’ costs outweigh their benefits, Glaeser believes, could the argument be made that urban areas are beginning to decay. After examining both the benefits and costs to individuals who live in cities, Glaeser concludes that relatively homogenous and low-density cities in the western portion of the United States are well positioned for future growth. However, Glaeser speculates that heterogeneous, impoverished, and decaying urban areas will decline due to their high costs of poverty and crime.
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Glaeser, E. (1998), “Are Cities Dying?”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 12, 139-160.
O’Sullivan A. (2012), Urban Economics, Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 8 th edition.
- The Rise and Fall of Cities