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Constrained pathways to a creative urban economy


  • Shade T Shutters

    (Arizona State University, USA)

  • Rachata Muneepeerakul

    (University of Florida, USA)

  • José Lobo

    (Arizona State University, USA)


Creative (knowledge-intensive) occupations are now widely seen as a basis for urban economic prosperity. Yet the transitional pathways from a city’s current economy to a more creative economy are often difficult to discern or to navigate. Here we use a network perspective of occupational interdependencies to address questions of urban transitions to a creative economy. This perspective allows us to assess alternative pathways and to compare cities with regard to their progress along these pathways. We find that US urban areas follow a general trajectory towards a creative economy that requires them to increasingly specialise, not only in creative occupations, but also in non-creative ones – presumably because certain non-creative occupations complement the tasks performed by related creative occupations. This creates a pull towards non-creative occupations that becomes ever stronger as a city moves more towards a creative economy. All in all, cities with the most creative economies must undergo an overall diversification of specialised occupations, with a greater diversification rate for creative occupations, and maintain those creative specialisations despite the pull towards a non-creative economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Shade T Shutters & Rachata Muneepeerakul & José Lobo, 2016. "Constrained pathways to a creative urban economy," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 53(16), pages 3439-3454, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:53:y:2016:i:16:p:3439-3454

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    Cited by:

    1. Teresa Farinha & Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Andrea Morrison & Ron Boschma, 2019. "What drives the geography of jobs in the US? Unpacking relatedness," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(9), pages 988-1022, October.
    2. Ron Boschma, 2018. "The geographical dimension of structural change," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1839, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Nov 2018.
    3. Camboim, Guilherme Freitas & Zawislak, Paulo Antônio & Pufal, Nathália Amarante, 2019. "Driving elements to make cities smarter: Evidences from European projects," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 154-167.
    4. Florian W. Bartholomae & Chang Woon Nam & Alina Schoenberg, 2017. "Urban Resurgence as a Consumer City: A Case Study for Weimar in Eastern Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 6610, CESifo.
    5. Mealy, Penny & Farmer, J. Doyne & Hausmann, Ricardo, 2018. "Determining the Differences that Matter: Development and Divergence in US States over 1850-2010," Working Paper Series rwp18-030, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.


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