, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 667-684
Date: 27 Jul 2012

Thinking about economic growth: cities, networks, creativity and supply chains for ideas

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Abstract

Discussions of economic growth require an examination of the role of cities. It is widely claimed that cities exist because they facilitate economic growth and development. Spatial concentrations reduce transactions costs. There are additional benefits gained as positive spillover effects are realized. The latter is especially important for the exchange of ideas. Creativity comes from new arrangements of thoughts and ideas. The thoughts of others facilitate new combinations of ideas. It is argued here that propitious spatial arrangements make both sets of benefits possible. These arrangements involve choices from a very large combinatorial set. The choice problem is too complex to entrust to models or planning agencies. Rather, flexible land markets are required. This paper is based on the author’s presidential address delivered at the February 2012 meetings of the Western Regional Science Association in Kauai, Hawaii.