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Migrants, markets and multinationals: competition among world cities for the highly skilled

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Abstract

Urban areas compete with one another for people, goods, capital, ideas and other inputs of economic activity. Under the rubric of globalization, instead of only maintaining or improving the initial stock of assets in a city, the power of a place to attract outside flows of economic activity from elsewhere is increasingly important to economic development. Similarly, global or world cities are characterized as the command and control points through which these global economic flows operate. In response to the heightened mobility of highly-skilled labor across national borders, research has begun to examine the role of international human capital as an economic flow. This paper will examine the role of places in determining where the highly-skilled go in the global economy by viewing global city command and control functions as requiring unique labor flows. By reviewing the evidence found in the literature, we can better understand the potential for urban areas to compete for highly-skilled labor in the global economy. Known indicators of place attractiveness are assessed to examine the relationship between the economic trajectories of cities and their labor requirements. Cities are situated between firms and states as the key place-based actors which influence the mobility of highly-skilled labor. Finally, the paper also examines measurement issues and methodological problems in creating indices of world cities as well as explores possibilities for new research.

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Acknowledgment

The author is especially grateful to Edward J. Malecki for his insightful comments and suggestions for this paper.

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Correspondence to Michael C. Ewers.

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Ewers, M.C. Migrants, markets and multinationals: competition among world cities for the highly skilled. GeoJournal 68, 119–130 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-007-9077-9

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