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

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  • Yolanda Kodrzycki
  • Ana Patricia Muñoz

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Yolanda Kodrzycki & Ana Patricia Muñoz, 2013. "Economic distress and resurgence in U.S. central cities: concepts, causes, and policy levers," Public Policy Discussion Paper 13-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:13-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Simon, Curtis J., 1998. "Human Capital and Metropolitan Employment Growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 223-243, March.
    3. 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.
    4. Glaeser, Edward L. & Scheinkman, JoseA. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1995. "Economic growth in a cross-section of cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 117-143, August.
    5. Rappaport, Jordan, 2007. "Moving to nice weather," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 375-398, May.
    6. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "Power Couples: Changes in the Locational Choice of the College Educated, 1940–1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1287-1315.
    7. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805.
    8. 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.
    9. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "Reinventing Boston: 1630--2003," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 119-153, April.
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    Keywords

    Metropolitan areas ; Metropolitan areas - Statistics ; Cities and towns ; Economic policy;

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