Is the Urban-Suburban Divide Destined to Disappear?

In a new book, Hans Westlund and Tigran Haas argue that the global knowledge economy is radically reshaping urban development. Eventually, they say, it'll render meaningless our present notions of "urban," "suburban," and "rural."

1 minute read

September 20, 2018, 8:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


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Heralding the arrival of a new urban development paradigm, Hans Westlund and Tigran Haas' book In The Post-Urban World makes the case that "multifunctional city regions" connected in "global city networks" constitute the world's urban future.

The term "urban" itself, they argue, will become less meaningful as the global knowledge economy gathers human capital into dense regional amalgamations. That densification will blur the line between urban and suburban as multifamily becomes the norm in places previously restricted to single family dwellings. Transportation and telecommunications will increasingly facilitate those ends.

In such a future, Westlund and Haas see smaller cities and rural settlements fading away unless they're integrated into wider city regions. "The more peripheral cities, towns and rural areas suffer of lack of sufficient concentrations of the now most important production factor, human capital, which means that their labor markets remain small and the knowledge economy has difficulties to develop there."

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