Unlocking the Potential of Post-Industrial Cities
The urban centers of New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco have enjoyed tremendous economic success and population growth in recent years. At the same time, cities like Baltimore and Detroit have experienced population loss and economic decline. People living in these cities are not enjoying the American Dream of upward mobility. How can post-industrial cities struggling with crime, pollution, poverty, and economic decline make a comeback?
In Unlocking the Economic Potential of Post-Industrial Cities, Matthew E. Kahn and Mac McComas explore why some people and places thrive during a time of growing economic inequality and polarization—and some don't. They examine six underperforming cities—Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis—that have struggled from 1970 to present. Drawing from the field of urban economics, Kahn and McComas ask how the public and private sectors can craft policies and make investments that create safe, green cities where young people reach their full potential. The authors analyze long-run economic and demographic trends. They also highlight recent lessons from urban economics in labor market demand and supply, neighborhood quality of life, and local governance while scrutinizing strategies to lift people out of poverty.
These cities are all at a fork in the road. Depending on choices made today, they could enjoy a significant comeback—but only if local leaders are open to experimentation and innovation while being honest about failure and constructive evaluation. Unlocking the Economic Potential of Post-Industrial Cities provides a roadmap for how urban policy makers, community members, and practitioners in the public and private sector can work together with researchers to discover how all cities can solve the most pressing modern urban challenges.
About the Authors
Matthew E. Kahn is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business at Johns Hopkins University, where he is the director of the 21st Century Cities Initiative. He is the author of Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future and the coauthor of Blue Skies Over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China. Mac McComas is the senior program manager for Johns Hopkins University's 21st Century Cities Initiative.
"Unlocking the Potential of Post-Industrial Cities provides a clear-eyed diagnosis of the problems facing America's older industrial cities. It uses the tools of urban economics to outline a bold agenda for revitalizing these cities. A must-read for urbanists and anyone concerned with the future of these great cities and our nation as a whole."
"Kahn and McComas's excellent book is well-written, well-argued, and important—the sort of economics that should be widely read, digested, and discussed. It offers a clear account of the economic forces that are shaping some of America's most important industrial cities and their regions, and explores economically sound ideas for their rebirth."
"McComas and Kahn make a persuasive case that cities should be viewed as centers of expanding opportunity, not massive shelters for the poor. They explore a variety of factors, including technological changes, environmental policies, and creative economic strategies, that will lead to unlocking the urban potential they describe."
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