The share of the population possessing college degrees in the 1970s is the best predictor of which northeastern and midwestern cities have done well since then.

That is, northeastern and midwestern cities in the US of A….

Edward L. Glaeser says this in an article about Buffalo’s potential for “coming back” from the decline of this once-important manufacturing and transshipment hub.

Glaeser makes the point that however much tax/government money flows into the community, and however wise and effective are the projects that money is used for, what really makes the difference are citizen-originated entrepreneurial undertakings that effectively use human capital. Glaeser cites Boston and Minneapolis as examples of that kind of turn-around.

What Glaeser doesn’t mention, at least in this article, is that both those cities also have important, prominent, and vibrant university and medical communities that maintained their eminence throughout the second half of the last century. I keep thinking both have to have been important components of the mix of factors that allowed the reinvention/survival of those cities—factors that aren’t prominent in dear old Buffalo….

You will not be surprised to know that I read Glaeser’s article while thinking about Detroit and other cities in my home state. Same huge population and economic declines as Buffalo. Same elevated percentages of poor(ish) and generally poorly educated people. And the educational and medical training and treatment nexuses of the state are not in Detroit. Not good odds….

I also wonder if there are parallels among European cities, once prominent in transportation networks webbed among ports along coasts or rivers….

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