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Economic distress and resurgence in U.S. central cities: concepts, causes, and policy levers

  • Yolanda K. Kodrzycki
  • Ana Patricia Muñoz
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    This paper provides a review of the literature on U.S. central city growth and distress during the second half of the twentieth century. It finds that city growth tended to be higher in metropolitan areas with favorable weather, higher growth, and greater human capital, while distress was strongly correlated with city-level manufacturing legacy. The article affirms that distress has been highly persistent, but that some cities have achieved resurgence through a combination of strong leadership, collaboration across sectors and institutions, clear and broad-based strategies, and significant infrastructure investments. Finally, the article explores measurement issues by comparing two methodologies used to identify poorly performing central cities: comparisons across a comprehensive national cross-section of cities and comparisons within smaller samples of similar cities. It finds that these approaches have produced similar assessments of a city’s status, except in some cases where the city’s progress has been uneven across time or with respect to alternative criteria.

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    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/ppdp/2013/ppdp1303.htm
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    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/ppdp/2013/ppdp1303.pdf
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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Public Policy Discussion Paper with number 13-3.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:13-3
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    1. Jordan Rappaport, 2004. "Moving to Nice Weather," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 188, Econometric Society.
    2. Edward L Glaeser & Jesse M Shapiro, 2003. "Urban Growth in the 1990s: Is City Living Back?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 139-165.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "Reinventing Boston: 1630--2003," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 119-153, April.
    4. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 1999. "Power Couples: Changes in the Locational Choice of the College Educated, 1940-1990," NBER Working Papers 7109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1995. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Simon, Curtis J., 1998. "Human Capital and Metropolitan Employment Growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 223-243, March.
    7. George A. Erickcek & Hannah McKinney, 2004. "Small Cities Blues: Looking for Growth Factors in Small and Medium-Sized Cities," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 04-100, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    8. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805, 05.
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