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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.

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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.

The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London

August 15, 2014 Comments off

The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Cities are important sites of entrepreneurship and innovation, especially for the tech industry, and skilled migrants can play critical roles in economic development in high-tech clusters such as London’s Tech City (also known as Silicon Roundabout). In the United Kingdom, an undersupply of skilled native-born developers encourages recruiters to look afield, but visa restrictions make hiring the right workers difficult. Evidence that firms are having trouble making the most of immigration point to a number of areas for policy action, as this report outlines.

A raft of policies were introduced to grow the Tech City cluster, but while the United Kingdom is reforming policies to attract and retain skilled migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs, getting the design of these programs right has proved especially difficult. Policymakers’ control over cluster development is limited: policies that seek to map clusters and maximize their growth rarely deliver expected benefits. However, policies that are not cluster specific—such as human-capital interventions aimed at improving the international supply of workers through migration or the local supply of workers through skills training—are likely to have indirect effects that help clusters grow.

This report analyzes the importance of human capital to the development of Tech City and sets this discussion in a broader framework linking cities, digital sectors, and highly skilled immigration.

The 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.”

Paychecks or Promises? Lessons from the Death Spiral of Detroit

August 12, 2014 Comments off

Paychecks or Promises? Lessons from the Death Spiral of Detroit
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Pay-with-promises compensation plans accumulate liability for future employee benefits, such as retiree health insurance. A simple economic model demonstrates that such plans can exacerbate fiscal crises faced by cities that experience external economic shocks, such as the departure of a major employer. City leaders often raise taxes and/or reduce public services to pay off legacy employee debts, and such steps encourage residents to move out, reducing the tax base and raising fiscal stress. Pay-as-you-go compensation plans are more prudent; they settle liabilities to employees paycheck by paycheck.

Rapid Bus: A Low-Cost, High-Capacity Transit System for Major Urban Areas

August 7, 2014 Comments off

Rapid Bus: A Low-Cost, High-Capacity Transit System for Major Urban Areas
Source: Cato Institute

Prompted by federal funding, more than 30 American cities have built or are building new rail transit lines. These expensive lines have debatable value as they put transit agencies in debt and impose high maintenance costs, yet they carry few riders more than the buses they replace and produce minimal, if any, environmental benefits. As an alternative to rail transit, this paper proposes a “rapid bus” system that would offer fast, frequent, and comfortable transportation to most people in an urban area. This paper will estimate the annualized costs of such a system and compare it with the costs of a traditional system of rail supplemented by feeder buses. Based on these estimates, this paper finds that

  • While rail lines serve a limited number of corridors, for less money a rapid bus system can reach nearly everyone in an urban area.
  • A rapid bus system can offer more frequent service at faster average speeds and fewer transfers between transit vehicles, all at a lower cost than rail.
  • Rapid buses also offer more comfortable rides because two-thirds to three-fourths of bus riders can be seated, whereas more than half of rail riders must stand when the rail system is operating at capacity.
  • Rapid bus systems are scalable, with low incremental costs, as downtown employment centers grow from 40,000 to 500,000 jobs. In contrast, rail systems require huge expenditures to start up and expand.
  • While a four-line light-rail system can bring only about 36,000 people per hour into a downtown area, the rapid bus system described in this paper can bring as many as 140,000 people per hour into downtown.
  • While rapid buses cannot cost-effectively replace the long-established subways and commuter trains serving New York City, they could save taxpayers’ money by replacing aging rail transit systems in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington.
  • Urban areas with 40,000–200,000 downtown jobs should expand their transit systems using rapid buses rather than light rail or other rail systems.
  • Urban areas with fewer than 40,000 downtown jobs probably do not need any form of high-capacity rapid transit.
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