The Metropolitanization of America

In this column from Governing, Peter Harkness looks at the increasing influence and power of metropolitan areas.

"As the general election contest gets under way, the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program has embarked on an ambitious and clearly well-funded bid to change the way we look at the country and its economy, with the hope of influencing the debate during the campaign and then policy making by the new administration and Congress."

"The message goes like this: The top 100 metropolitan areas cover only 12 percent of the national land mass but are home to about two-thirds of its population and its jobs - and even larger shares of "innovative activity": 78 percent of its patents, 75 percent of those with graduate degrees, 79 percent of air cargo, 94 percent of venture capital funding, and so on. In all, they generate three-quarters of the gross domestic product."

"Add in more than 200 other smaller metro areas, and we truly are looking at a metropolitan nation. Peirce puts it in context: "As economic actors, major U.S. citistates compete in size with major world nations. In gross product, the New York region ranks 13th among the world's top economies, just ahead of Australia, Argentina and Russia. The Los Angeles citistate is bigger than Korea, Chicago greater than Taiwan or Switzerland." And so, he says, citistates are how "our world is now organizing itself" away from an old way of thinking (federal, state, local) to a new way: global, regional and neighborhood."

Full Story: The Metropolitan Era

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