The Wealth and Poverty of Regions: Why Cities Matter

The Wealth and Poverty of Regions: Why Cities Matter

by Mario Polese


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As the world becomes more interconnected through travel and electronic communication, many believe that physical places will become less important. But as Mario Polèse argues in The Wealth and Poverty of Regions, geography will matter more than ever before in a world where distance is allegedly dead.

This provocative book surveys the globe, from London and Cape Town to New York and Beijing, contending that regions rise—or fall—due to their location, not only within nations but also on the world map. Polèse reveals how concentrations of industries and populations in specific locales often result in minor advantages that accumulate over time, resulting in reduced prices, improved transportation networks, increased diversity, and not least of all, “buzz”—the excitement and vitality that attracts ambitious people. The Wealth and Poverty of Regions maps out how a heady mix of size, infrastructure, proximity, and cost will determine which urban centers become the thriving metropolises of the future, and which become the deserted cities of the past. Engagingly written, the book provides insight to the past, present, and future of regions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226673158
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 01/15/2010
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mario Polèse holds the Senior Canada Research Chair in Urban and Regional Studies and is professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Montreal. He is coauthor of, most recently, Connecting Cities with Macroeconomic Concerns.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1          Why Do Some Places Generate More Wealth Than Others?

            Places in a Shrinking World

            History and Industrial Legacies

2          Size and Location

            The Four Golden Rules of Regional Growth

            The Positive Relationship between Size and Wealth

            The Seven Pillars of Agglomeration

            Why Smaller Cities Exist


            A Simple Template

3          The Regional Origins of Wealth: Where It All Began

            When Location and Size Mattered Less

            Water and Waterways

            A Tale of Two Continents

            Europe’s Blue Banana

            North America’s Bipolar Destiny

            South of the Border—Mexico

            Lessons from Europe and North America

4          Why Is the Geography of Wealth More Unequal in Some Nations?

            On the Use of the Word “Disparity”

            Why Regional Disparities Happen—and Should Eventually Disappear

            Why Regional Disparities Are Higher in Some Nations

            Why Are Regional Disparities More Difficult to Overcome in Some Nations?

            Why the United States Is Different

5          Cities and National Economic Growth: An Asymmetrical Relationship

            A Short History (and Explanation) of Urbanization

            Urbanization Is an Outcome of Economic Growth (Not the Other Way Around)

            Is Urbanization Different in Developing Nations?

            Third World Cities: Victims of Progress?

            The Difference between the Foundations of National and Local Economic Growth

6          Regional Growth in the Green and Gray Knowledge Economy

            Hedonic Regional Growth

            Green Migrations: Sun, Surf, and Cafés

            Gray Migration: Golf, Châteaux, and Boardwalks

            Size and Location Also Matter for Tourism

            Revisiting the Rules of Regional Growth

            Archipelagos of Growth

            Zero-sum Growth

            Some Places Will Decline

            Some Places Will Continue to Grow (or Decline) for Unique Reasons

7          What Have We Learned?

            Some Places Will Always Be Wealthier than Others

            Cities Will Continue to Grow

            The Diversification of the Sources of Regional Growth

            The Never-ending Search for the Right Strategy

            The New Importance of Place: People

Data Sources: Tables, Figures, and Maps




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