Last week Radio NZ had a great interview with Harvard economics professor and author of the book Triumph of the City Edward Glaeser.

Edward Glaeser proves in this myth-shattering book, Triumph of the City, cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live.

or listen here

A couple of key things he points out.

  • Cities haven’t demised as once thought would happen but urban living remains dynamic and important.
  • Change in cities has followed technology progress – originally cities built around places of industry and transport hubs, that changed as transport costs changed.
  • People assumed the trend would continue with information technology changes but the opposite happened. Led to increased returns to being smart and innovative. Cities make that happen easier due to a greater chance of interaction between people.
  • Cities are places of pleasure as well as productivity.
  • Government policy shouldn’t be anti urban – most western countries have a suburban twist on public policy that penalises the city in favor of the suburbs.
  • Every time we say no to developments that add dwellings we’re saying no to families who would like to live in the city and saying no to a more affordable city.
  • The most economically successful cities tend to be strong on education – human capital is the bedrock to success.
  • The paradox of development from an environmental perspective is that things that look green are usually pretty brown and things that look brown are usually pretty green. This is primarily because people in dense areas tend to have fewer transport emissions and smaller dwellings use less energy.
  • The biggest human advancements have come from interaction between different sectors where ideas can spread
  • Tech companies like Google show the importance of face to face interaction rather than just teleworking. After all if any companies could do remote working it’s them.
  • Unlike with providing clean water there is no engineering solution to congestion and we can’t build your way out of it. Only way to address it is by pricing it.
  • Two great dangers in building cities is NIMBISM and Monumentalism. Need to find a balance between the two to create more liveable cities
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10 comments

  1. Can we hire this guy?

    I’m sure we can afford him, particularly as John Key is just asking to be sacked.

    – John Key ( Prime Minister @ New Zealand Herald Puff Piece )
    I used to be able to sit there and look at two digits and tell whether the price was going up or down.

  2. Yes good report there. Great to hear Radio NZ engaging in discussions on the future shape and form of our cities.

    1. Yes and noone is disputing that.

      But rather than scatter their employees all over the place (the dispersed employment pattern that anti-urban people always love) and work remotely they have built their own little town so that all the employees can be close together (agglomeration benefits that pro-urban people love).

      And Google is trying to build more housing near its Googleplex to capture even more of those agglomeration benefits:
      http://abcnews.go.com/Business/google-invests-sparkly-housing-development-mountain-view-calif/story?id=20167618

  3. Ed is a conservative, too, though an embarrassment to every other conservative in the land. But he can beat the tar out of the Wendell Cox’s of the world because his data is better. I mean *are* better.

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