Innovative Urban Economies

The Universal Pathway to Innovative Urban Economies

Cities are centers of human productivity, creativity and innovation. Yet, at what point in their evolution do they become cultural, intellectual and economic hubs. Or to put it another way, as cities grow in population and wealth, do they all tend to follow similar economic pathways? Hyejin Youn, Assistant Professor of Management Organizations in the Kellogg School of Management and the Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, was intrigued by this question. She and her collaborators from MIT, Stanford, Indiana University and the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in Berlin, analyzed employment data including more than 100 million U.S. workers in all industries between 1998 and 2013 and found that individual cities indeed follow a common pathway where a transition to innovative economies is observed at the population of 1.2 million.

This work is another demonstration that human behavior and society follow universal trends regardless of regional and historical differences and the identification of these patterns may help policy and decision makers improve their forecasts of urban development. 

These findings were published in Science Advances on August 21st. Click here to read full paper. 

McCormick News Article