The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 787–805 | Cite as

Production and work in the American metropolis: a macroscopic approach

Original Paper


In this paper, I pursue the idea that large and small metropolitan areas are subject to distinctively different technological, organizational, and employment dynamics. This idea is considered both in general terms, and, more specifically, in the light of the emerging cognitive-cultural economy in the United States Two main bodies of empirical evidence are invoked in a series of hypothesis-testing exercises. One of these is focused on 6-digit manufacturing sectors in metropolitan areas; here, the objective is to reveal by means of regression analysis the basic dimensions of locational sorting across the metropolitan hierarchy. The other revolves around detailed census occupational groupings and the different ways in which their functional relations to data, people, and things are reflected in their spatial dynamics. The evidence presented suggests that the competitive advantages of large metropolitan areas reside above all in forms of economic activity marked by high levels of operational instability and product differentiation as expressed, among other things, in labor-intensive technologies and discretionary labor processes. The competitive advantages of small metropolitan areas flow from a converse set of characteristics. It is also shown that the new cognitive-cultural economy of the United States is being ushered in via metropolitan areas at the top of the urban hierarchy.

JEL Classification

J24 R11 R12 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Department of Policy StudiesUniversity of California-Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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