Harvard’s Edward Glaeser contends that cities are our species’ greatest invention. His readable volume explains why cities make us richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier. His book is Triumph of the City. Several of its major points highlight special strengths of San Diego.

First, take a look at some of what the research has revealed. Second, learn why San Diego exceeds many other metropolitan areas.

First, Consider 10 Major Themes: 

  • City’s greatest benefit comes from the ability to produce new thinking, to magnify our capacity. Humans are social species that excel in producing things together. Cities enable collaboration.
  • Urban workers earn 30 percent more than non-metropolitan workers
  • Americans in cities above two million are 50 percent more productive than people in smaller areas
  • Cities make it easier to find a spouse
  • Cities are greener than suburbs
  • Transportation technology shapes cities
  • Metro areas promote chance meetings of smart people and accidental insights
  • Cities attract poor folks because it is their best chance to escape poverty
  • Metro areas enable poor kids to become rich. Rural poor lack that opportunity
  • 22 metros generate the majority ofU.S.income. Glaeser argues that art, business, education, finance, and science all advanced further and faster in cities than in rural settings

Second, Examine 9 Characteristics

Which Especially Benefit San Diego 

  • Cities thrive when they have many small firms and skilled workers. San Diego has a higher percentage of smaller firms than most otherU.S.metros. Our smaller firms mean there is more competition. Just as runners run faster when the competition is near, it also encourages marketplace performance. Big firms and unskilled workers do not fare well. Our economic diversity is more robust than manufacturing monocultures, like Detroit.
  • Young people bring energy and dynamism to communities. We have the third highest percentage of millennials. When their population share increases one more percent, San Diego will pass Austin and became the metro with the highest percentage of millennials. Related to our competitive advantage, young adults in particular work longer when they know a competitor is near.
  • Cities have long created intellectual explosions, in which one smart idea generates others. The Bay Area has their Pay Pal Mafia”, serial entrepreneurs who have generated scores of business successes. UCSD is our bio-tech catalyst.
  • Successful cities attract smart, entrepreneurial people. Bright students and affluent vacationers want to stay in, or move to, San Diego.
  • San Diego is America’s greenest city. It has 20 percent of the per capita energy footprint ofChina’s industrial city of Daqing, their oil capital.
  • Educated people move for quality of life. San Diego is more attractive than other desirable areas; warmer than Boston winters and cooler than Austin summers.
  • Education is the second most important predictor of urban growth. The greater percentage of college educated people, the higher the average income. We export education to the world.
  • Most successful cities connect continents. Open cities can’t exist in closed nations. Immigration is crucial to urban success. San Diego borders Mexico and is a gateway to thePacific Rim.
  • Diversity, education and immigration promote astounding economic growth.CityHeightsis a nationally recognized example of first generation Americans becoming drivers of economic success.

Triumph of the City devotes 25% of its content to documenting its claims. Glaeser touches on many other aspects regarding cities, including arguing that the suburban ecologists have it backwards. He shows how NIMBYs lock local development and, in effect, push growth into Houston, Las Vegas and Pheonix –  cities with higher energy and ecological costs. If these 700 words whet your appetite, invest a few hours in the full volume.

Alternately, if you want to know which zip codes can provide superior opportunities, contact me.

 Terry Moore, CCIM is an intellectual scout for his clients. He’ll read 50 non-fiction books this year to help his clients make the most important financial choice of their next decade. He is part owner of Apartment Consultants Inc. He is among the county’s most active income property brokers. Reach him at 619-889-1031, tmoore1031@gmail.com or SanDiegoApartmentBroker.com.