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Urbanisation at Multiple Scales Is Associated with Larger Size and Higher Fecundity of an Orb-Weaving Spider

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Urbanisation at Multiple Scales Is Associated with Larger Size and Higher Fecundity of an Orb-Weaving Spider
Source: PLoS ONE

Urbanisation modifies landscapes at multiple scales, impacting the local climate and changing the extent and quality of natural habitats. These habitat modifications significantly alter species distributions and can result in increased abundance of select species which are able to exploit novel ecosystems. We examined the effect of urbanisation at local and landscape scales on the body size, lipid reserves and ovary weight of Nephila plumipes, an orb weaving spider commonly found in both urban and natural landscapes. Habitat variables at landscape, local and microhabitat scales were integrated to create a series of indexes that quantified the degree of urbanisation at each site. Spider size was negatively associated with vegetation cover at a landscape scale, and positively associated with hard surfaces and anthropogenic disturbance on a local and microhabitat scale. Ovary weight increased in higher socioeconomic areas and was positively associated with hard surfaces and leaf litter at a local scale. The larger size and increased reproductive capacity of N.plumipes in urban areas show that some species benefit from the habitat changes associated with urbanisation. Our results also highlight the importance of incorporating environmental variables from multiple scales when quantifying species responses to landscape modification.

See: The Urban Environment Is Creating Super-Sized Spiders (The Atlantic)

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Categories: ecology, PLoS ONE, urban issues

Rise of the Startup City: The Changing Geography of the Venture Capital Financed Innovation

September 8, 2014 Comments off

Rise of the Startup City: The Changing Geography of the Venture Capital Financed Innovation
Source: Martin Prosperity Institute (Richard Florida)

Virtually the entire modern literature on urban economics – from Jane Jacobs and Robert Lucas to Edward Glaeser and Richard Florida – highlights the role of clustering, density, and diversity of the sort found in cities as key drivers of innovation. Dense urban areas are more productive. They are where highly skilled talent is drawn both to be around other talented people and to enjoy abundant amenities. They are the centers of the kinds social and industrial diversity needed to power creativity and innovation. They give rise to and facilitate the overlapping knowledge and professional networks through which knowledge and ideas spread. They are the places where people from diverse backgrounds can find one another and combine their talents. They are literally defined by their speed of connections and faster urban metabolisms. More than any other social or economic organism, cities are incubators for new ideas, new innovations and new enterprises. In a recent review of the broad literature on urbanism and innovation, economists Gerald Carlino and William Kerr write that: “three-quarters of the U.S. population resided in metropolitan areas. By contrast, 92 percent of patents were granted to residents of metropolitan areas, and virtually all VC investments were made into major cities.”

Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Revitalizing Detroit: Is There a Role for Immigration?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

More than half a century after its peak as America’s fourth-largest city, Detroit has become a byword for the urban decline and economic decay that have plagued the cities of America’s industrial heartland. Without its former core industrial base, Detroit has had to look for new ways out of economic decline. Detroit and other cities like it face several key challenges in their progress toward recovery, including a shrinking and aging population, diminished city resources, and a lack of high-skilled human capital.

Immigration alone cannot save Detroit, as this report makes clear. But if carefully managed in the context of a broader economic development strategy, immigration may be a promising tool for boosting Detroit’s economic prospects. This report explores various immigration-related initiatives aimed at restarting economic growth that have been advanced by Detroit and Michigan leaders, the regional chamber of commerce, and civil society. However, it remains unclear how effective these efforts (and similar ones in other cities) will be. The same factors that have driven the native born from the city (such as unemployment, neighborhood blight, and poor municipal services) may keep immigrants away.

Detroit is not alone in its efforts. While a successful outcome is not guaranteed, these cities offer an interesting opportunity to observe what, if any, potential immigration has to boost economic redevelopment.

This report is part of a series from MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration focused on how policymakers at all levels can work together to help cities and regions get more out of immigration. The reports were commissioned for the Council’s eleventh plenary meeting, “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.”

The City Brand: Champion of Immigrant Integration or Empty Marketing Tool?

August 29, 2014 Comments off

The City Brand: Champion of Immigrant Integration or Empty Marketing Tool?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

In recent years, cities on both sides of the Atlantic have invested in branding strategies and campaigns to attract tourism, investment, and new residents. This trend is closely tied to the increasing global demand for human capital and changes in travel and technology, which are challenging cities seeking growth to set themselves apart from similar localities in the region and around the world. City branding strategies, often embedded in a broader public discourse, must reflect the heterogeneity of residents while conveying the shared values, culture, and identity of the population. For some cities, diversity and openness themselves are main selling points. Other cities’ branding strategies benefit from key economic conditions like a thriving industrial sector or links to centers of research and innovation.

This report explores the relationship between marketing and communications campaigns, immigration, and processes of immigrant integration. One question it seeks to answer: how can cities balance the twin goals of attracting skilled residents to fuel new growth while creating a “diversity-proof” identity, especially in a context of social inequality and high turnover? Within two categories of city discourse, one meant to attract new talent and the other meant to develop a local identity, municipal governments have various tactics to choose from to build a cohesive branding strategy directed at immigrant populations.

Still, creating a truly representative brand is a difficult task for many cities. One challenge is how to link internal- and external-focused marketing campaigns, which target very different cohorts. Brands must encompass all residents, both immigrant and native born, and must reflect a diverse range of ethnic and cultural identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and reasons for living in the city.

Neighborhood Change, 1970 to 2010: Transition and Growth in Urban High Poverty Neighborhoods

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Neighborhood Change, 1970 to 2010: Transition and Growth in Urban High Poverty Neighborhoods (PDF)
Source: Impresa Consulting

This paper analyzes changes in high poverty urban neighborhoods in the nation’s large metropolitan areas between 1970 and 2010. Using census tract data to track neighborhood performance, and defining high poverty as neighborhoods with a poverty rate of greater than 30 percent, this paper finds:

About 1,100 census tracts in urban neighborhoods in the nation’s large metropolitan areas had poverty rates in excess of 30 percent in 1970. These tracts had a population of 5 million, of which nearly 2 million were poor.

High poverty was persistent in these neighborhoods. Four decades later, 750 of these tracts—home to about three-quarters of the 1970 high poverty neighborhood population—still had rates of poverty in excess of 30 percent.

Though poverty persisted, these high poverty neighborhoods were not stable— in the aggregate they lost population, with chronic high poverty neighborhoods losing 40 percent of their population by 2010.

City Replanning

August 21, 2014 Comments off

City Replanning
Source: Social Science Research Network

In this paper we provide a new defense for one of the most criticized ideas in land use law, that city plans should constitute settled deals about the proper uses of land that should be sticky against subsequent zoning amendments. In the middle of the last century, several prominent scholars argued that courts should find zoning amendments that were contrary to city plans ultra vires. But this idea was largely rejected by courts and scholars alike, with leading figures like Carol Rose, Robert Nelson and Bill Fischel arguing that parcel-specific zoning amendments provide space for the give-and-take of democracy and lead to the efficient amount of development by encouraging negotiations between developers and residents over externalities from new building projects. Their case against plans and in favor of deals suggested that zoning authorities act either as arbiters in land use disputes or as agents for existing residents to encourage negotiated solutions.

We argue, by contrast, that the dismissal of plans was shortsighted and has helped contribute to the excessive strictness of zoning in our richest and most productive cities and regions, which has driven up housing prices excessively and produced outcomes that are economically inefficient and distributively unattractive. In contrast with both planning’s critics and supporters, we argue that plans and comprehensive remappings are best understood as deals. Plans and remappings facilitate trades between city councilmembers who understand the need for new development but refuse to have their neighborhoods be dumping grounds for all new construction. Further, by setting forth what can be constructed as of right, plans reduce the information costs borne by purchasers of land and developers, broadening the market for new construction. We argue that land use law should embrace a version of plans as a procedural tool that packages together policies and sets of zoning changes in a number of neighborhoods simultaneously through procedures that make such packages difficult to unwind.

We conclude by arguing that modern property law scholarship has failed to recognize that real property law is now substantially a public law subject and should be studied using the tools of public law. Leading scholars, most notably Tom Merrill and Henry Smith, have developed sophisticated tools for analyzing the ways in which the common law of property is designed to reduce information costs, which we employ here. But the field has ignored the fact that the common law of property is far less important than it once was as a method for regulating real property ownership and use. Legislatures and administrative agencies at a variety of levels determine most of the rules governing how real property is used and purchased. In order to understand how today’s property law increases or reduces the information costs facing owners, users, potential purchasers and third-parties to property, the field must make an “institutional turn,” studying the likely effects on policy of different institutional arrangements and procedures.

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2013

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2013 (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 2013, the overall unemployment rate for the United States was 7.4 percent; however, the rate varied across race and ethnicity groups. The rates were highest for Blacks (13.1 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (12.8 percent) and lowest for Asians (5.2 percent) and for Whites (6.5 percent). The jobless rate was 9.1 percent for Hispanics, 10.2 percent for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and 11.0 percent for people of Two or More Races.

Labor market differences among the race and ethnicity groups are associated with many factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include variations across the groups in educational attainment; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.

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