Are Cities Dying? Essay

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Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 12, Number 2—Spring 1998—Pages 139-160
Are Cities Dying?
Edward L. Glaeser
Is the city dying? Professional seers, such as Richard Naisbitt and Alvin Toffler, have argued that information technology is rapidly making the need for faceto- face contact juid cities obsolete. Experts on the inner city see inevitable urban decay when they note that 16.7 percent of families in cities with greater than one million inhabitants live below the poverty line (compsired to 10 percent of families across the entire United States) and that the probability of being victimized by crime within a six-month period is 21.7 percent in a city with more thjui one million inhabitants (compared to 9.4 percent among …show more content…

The future of the city's productivity depends on whether available substitutes for face-to-face interactions (e-mail, the internet, and so on) will make the need for personal contact obsolete, or whether the new technologies harbor the dawn of a more interactive era where the ability to contact in person easily is particularly prized.
The costs of cities have historically included health costs, pollution, congestion, crime and social problems. Technological advances have eliminated the health and pollution gaps between cities and other areas. However, longer commuting times in cities are still an important cost, and social troubles such as crime remain among
'' While actually measuring price differences on a micro-level is quite hard, it appears that this wage difference roughly compensates workers for higher prices. Nevertheless, as I discuss later, it also must reflect a higher productivity of labor since otherwise, firms would leave,
" Richard Freeman alerted me to this fact and gave me the raw data on which he calculated this figure.
Edward L. Glaeser 141 cities' biggest problems. Indeed, poorer individuals fleeing cities are most likely to cite crime as their primary reason for flight (Kling, Liebman and Katz, 1996).
Of course, the future of cities also depends on what governments do. The federal government appears unlikely to favor cities particularly and, if anything, to

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