Harvard’s Edward Glaeser contends that cities are our species greatest invention. His readable volume explains why cities make us richer smarter greener, healthier and happier. His book is Triumph of the City. Several of its major points highlight special strengths of San Diego.
First understand some of what the research has revealed. Second learn why San Diego excels many other metropolitan areas. Finally consider how this well documented work challenges some popular ecological notions.
First consider 10 major themes:
· City’s greatest prosperity comes from the ability to produce new thinking. Humans are social species that excel in producing things together. Cities enable collaboration, especially knowledge; mankind’s important creation. Cities magnify human capacity.
· Urban workers earn 30 percent more than non-metropolitan workers.
· Americans in cities above two million are 50 percent more productive than people in smaller areas.
· Cities speed innovation by connecting smart people. There is a near perfect correlation between urbanization and prosperity across nations. Per capita income is about four times as high in nations with a majority in cities versus a majority not in cities.
· Cities make it easier to find a spouse.
· Cities are greener than suburbs.
· Transportation technology shapes cities.
· Metro areas promote & simplify chance meetings of smart people and accidental learnings.
· Cities attract poor folks because it is their best chance to escape poverty. Metro areas enable the poor’s kids to become rich. Rural poor lack that opportunity.
· Twenty-two metropolitan areas generate the majority of the national income. Cities subsidize rural places. Glaeser argues that art, business, education, finance, and science all advanced further faster in cities than in rural settings.
Second examine 10 truths which especially benefit San Diego.
· Cities thrive when they have many small firms and skilled citizens. San Diego has a higher percentage of smaller firms than most other US metros. We have the third highest rate of millennials. When we increase their share one more percent of our population, San Diego will pass Austin to be highest percentage of millennials.
· Big firms and unskilled workers do not fare well. Economic diversity is more robust than manufacturing monocultures, like Detroit.
· Cities have long created intellectual explosions, in which one smart idea generates others. Bay area has Pay Pal Mafia. UCSD is our bio-tech catalyst.
· Successful cities attract smart entrepreneurial people. Bright students and affluent vacationers want to stay in or move to San Diego.
· Human capital explains why cities succeed. The share of population with a college degree is the best explanation of urban prosperity. San Diego education exceeds national average.
· San Diego is America’s greenest city. It has 20 percent per capita energy footprint of China’s industrial city of Daqing, their oil capital. Educated people move for about quality of life and San Diego is warmer than Boston and cooler than Austin.
· Runners know that a close competitor causes both to run faster. It is true in economics as well as on the track. Young adults in particular work longer when they know a competitor is near.
· Education is the second most important predictor of urban growth. The greater percentage of college educated people, the higher the average income. We export education to world.
· Most successful cities connect continents. Open cities can’t exist in closed nations. Immigration is crucial to urban success. Pacific Ocean and Mexico border San Diego.
· Diversity, education and immigration promote astounding economic growth. City Heights has shown that in less than a generation.
Third Glaeser argues suburban ecologists have it backwards.
· Driving and urbanization patterns may be 21st Century’s biggest environmental issues.
· Good environmentalism means putting buildings where they do the least ecological harm.
· California environmentalists slow local development. They push development and housing to places with higher energy and ecological costs: Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Metropolitan economics may be producing unsustainable environmental results.
Triumph of the City devotes 25% of its words to documenting the claims. If these 750 words whet your appetite, invest a few hours in the full volume. Alternately if you want to know which zip codes can provide superior opportunities, contact me.
Terry Moore, CCIM is an intellectual scout for his clients. He’ll read 50 non-fiction books this year in his attempt to help his clients make the most important financial choice of their next decade. He is part owner of Apartment Consultants Inc. For a generation he has been among the county’s most active income property brokers. Reach him at 619-889-1031, firstname.lastname@example.org or SanDiegoApartmentBroker.com