Harvard economist Edward Glaeser has a new paper out talking about “urbanization and its discontents.” In it, he argues that while cities today are working remarkably well for highly skilled people, they don’t seem to be delivering the same upward mobility to lower skilled people. The “urban wage premium” for this segment of the population has seemingly disappeared.
The posited causes of this discontent will likely resonate with many of you:
Urban resurgence represents private sector success, and the public sector typically only catches up to urban change with a considerable lag. Moreover, as urban machines have been replaced by governments that are more accountable to empowered residents, urban governments do more to protect insiders and less to enable growth. The power of insiders can be seen in the regulatory limits on new construction and new businesses, the slow pace of school reform and the unwillingness to embrace congestion pricing.
Unfortunately, this paper isn’t available for free online. If you’re interested, you’ll need to purchase a copy, here.