Cities, Productivity, and Quality of Life

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 592-594
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209264

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Technological changes and improved electronic communications seem, paradoxically, to be making cities more, rather than less, important. There is a strong correlation between urbanization and economic development across countries, and within-country evidence suggests that productivity rises in dense agglomerations. But urban economic advantages are often offset by the perennial urban curses of crime, congestion and contagious disease. The past history of the developed world suggests that these problems require more capable governments that use a combination of economic and engineering solutions. Though the scope of urban challenges can make remaining rural seem attractive, agrarian poverty has typically also been quite costly.

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