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The Rise of Skills: Human Capital, the Creative Class and Regional Development

January 11, 2012

The Rise of Skills: Human Capital, the Creative Class and Regional Development
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute

The past couple of decades have seen what amounts to skills revolution in urban and regional economic research. From industrial location theory and Alfred Marshall’s concern for agglomeration to more recent research on high-tech districts and industrial clusters firms and industries has been the dominant unit of analysis. But since the 1990s there has been a growing focus on skills. This broad research thrust includes studies of human capital; the creative class and occupational class more broadly; and physical, cognitive and social skills, among others. This research highlights the growing geographic divergence of skills across cities and metros and their effects on regional innovation, wages, incomes and development broadly. A growing literature notes the growing importance of place in organizing and mobilizing these skills. Studies have focused on the role of amenities, universities, diversity and other place-related factor in accounting for the growing divergence of skills across locations. This article summarizes the key lines of research that constitute the skills revolution in urban and regional research.

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