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interesting homage to cities
on 13 May 2012
In this interesting book, Glaeser makes a strong economic, social and environmental case for cities. He shows how cities, by creating greater population density reduce carbon emissions from car use, through higher use of public or foot transport. He also shows how cities attract the poor who arrive in search of better lives and suggests that the the greatest cities do indeed afford that opportunity. City poverty, especially in the developing world is better than rural poverty, and there is greater chance for advancement.
Glaeser also makes clear the transformative effects of education in creating great cities, with Singapore, Boston and others given as strong examples of how good educational policies create a virtuous cycle; better educated populations create new ideas which drive forward economic growth, art and culture, which in turn attracts other well educated people, who continue the advance. The destructive effect of the best educated people leaving areas, putting this cycle into reverse, are exemplified in Detroit which has lost almost 60% of its population over the last 40 years and is now one of poorest cities in the USA.
This book is largely focused on the USA, but makes important points about Europe, China, and India too - where allowing greater concentration of building in city centres, particularly high rise building, is shown as the route to economic growth, whilst minimising environmental damage.
Whilst all of this is presented in an interesting, and easily read style, there are times when the messages can be a little repetitive - but it is an entertaining and informative read