Abstract

Do jobs follow people or do people follow jobs? A number of currently prominent approaches to urbanization respond to this question by privileging the role of individual locational choice in response to amenity values as the motor of contemporary urban growth. Amenities, it is often said, have an especially potent effect on the migration patterns of individuals endowed with high levels of human capital. However, these approaches raise many unanswered questions. Theories that describe urban growth as a response to movements of people in search of consumer or lifestyle preferences can be questioned on the grounds of their assumptions about human behavior, as well as their silence in regard to the geographical dynamics of production and work. We argue that a more effective line of explanation must relate urban growth directly to the economic geography of production and must explicitly deal with the complex recursive interactions between the location of firms and the movements of labor. In this context, we also offer a reinterpretation of the currently fashionable notions of ‘creativity’ and the role of skilled labor in cities.

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