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Global cities

January 4, 2018

The New York Times has an article on the rise of global cities. The thesis is that large cities like San Francisco, New York, London, etc., have become the nodes of the global economy, that they are more dependent and interactive with each other than with the smaller cities in their own area, that this pattern of development is the result of modern technology, that it is a different economic pattern than prior to the 1980s when large cities were economic hubs for the smaller cities around them, and that this change is driving economic disparity both between the global cities and other towns, and within global cities themselves.

That paints a grim future for many smaller towns, especially in regions where people wouldn’t want to live other than for economic promise. Noah Smith points out that the towns in the rust belt that have done the best are those that are those with universities and that welcome immigrants:

So with the Rust Belt’s traditional sources of strength having mostly deserted it, and with the Sun Belt and the coastal cities looking so attractive, higher education and immigration look like the only realistic lifelines for the region to grab onto. John Austin’s program for regional revival isn’t a pie-in-the-sky dream for how a wealthy region could become even more successful — it’s a lone ray of hope for a struggling region otherwise headed for continued decline.

Alas, the economic shift to global cities has spurred right-wing populist movements in Europe and the US desiring policies quite contrary to education and immigration. Not understanding the change they are suffering, people are turning to rank nativism, dying tradition, empty nationalism, and religious bigotry.

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