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Working Papers

The Dispersionist Manifesto

Working paper #710
Joel Kotkin

Contrary to conventional wisdom, urbanity is dispersing rather than concentrating. This is true in both the developing and high-income world. More people live in urban areas, but a higher proportion in smaller cities and suburbs. The reasons are pretty basic: more space, newer infrastructure, greater affordability and, often, less regulation. The dispersionist viewpoint is not anti-urban, but embraces a broader concept of urbanity that transcends the traditional notions of dominance of central core cities. With the spread of telecommunications technology and greater transportation options, the opportunities for smaller cities and surrounding areas will wax in the coming decades. Core cities and mega-cities will remain important, but the vast majority of people, and economic opportunity will continue to shift towards more human-scale, affordable places.

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