Jane Jacobs and Economies of Diversity

2 May 2006 at 1:07 pm 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

American-born Canadian writer and activist Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), Cities and the Wealth of Nations (1984), and other important works on urban issues, died last week at age 89. (Jacobs never held a university post, and the obituary writers weren't sure what to call her; the Toronto Star chose "urban philosopher," suggesting to younger readers a hip-hop artist or tagger.) Lynne Kiesling at Knowledge Problem summarizes some of the Jacobs commentary around the web. (See also this from Gene Callahan and Sandy Ikeda and this from Leonard Gilroy.)

My interest in Jacobs's work stems, in part, from a current project on the economics of clustering in agro-biotechnology. My reading of the economic geography literature suggests that it tends to overstate the advantages of localization (proximity to key suppliers or buyers, access to specialized, tacit knowledge from similar firms, etc.) while downplaying the importance of economies of urbanization or diversity, an equally important kind of agglomeration. Readers, please correct me if this impression is wrong.

Besides classic works on economies of urbanization by Jacobs, Rosenberg (1963), and Henderson (1988), I like this paper by Pierre Desrochers, and this one by Desrochers and Frederic Sautet. 

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Entrepreneurship, Institutions, Recommended Reading.

New Foss-Foss-Klein working paper Mises on econometricians

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