The question during a season of resurgent populism is not how to double down on the urban-rural divide and pit the heartland against cities. Rather, it is how to make cities more dynamic for more people.

"Humankind's greatest creation has always been its cities," writes urban theorist Joel Kotkin. "They represent the ultimate handiwork of our imagination as a species, testifying to our ability to reshape the natural environment in the most profound and lasting ways." Kotkin chronicles the rise and fall of cities throughout history and across the globe, probing for answers to the question, "What makes cities great, and what leads to their gradual demise?" He lands on three factors essential to every healthy, growing city:

The sacredness of place, the ability to provide security and project power, and last, the animating role of commerce. Where these factors are present, urban culture flourishes. When these elements weaken, cities dissipate and eventually recede out of history.1

The president who begins his term in 2021 should take the vitality of American cities seriously. Their success has a lot to do with the success of the country as a whole, economically and culturally. It is easy to take our cities for granted, but as Kotkin notes, urban dissipation is always a possibility. In fact, even before the pandemic and our recent season of urban unrest, some American cities have been in decline, while others have ascended. Understanding how to prevent the former and encourage the latter should be one goal of the next administration.

Kotkin's description of urban distinctiveness is reminiscent of Lewis Mumford's observation in his classic City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformation, and Its Prospects that, from its earliest days, the city was always a blend of power and sacredness, which the increasing commerce and capital of the modern era greatly amplified. Cities are where we focus our awe, power, and prosperity.2 Cities of different shapes and sizes share the common elements of power, progress, culture, and commerce, without which entire societies would not advance as they do.

Dynamism has always been central to their rise. In one sense and in keeping with the Greek notion of dunamis, they are alive. Physicist Geoffrey West has even discovered that the same mathematical equations of scale in the biological world apply to urban areas.

Cities have an organic quality. They evolve physically and grow out of interactions between people. The great metropolises of the world facilitate human interaction, creating the indefinable buzz and soul that is the wellspring of its innovation and excitement and a major contributor to its resilience and success, economically and socially.3

Dynamism is essential for cities; creators, differentiators, makers, builders, entertainers, and contrarians have always been at home in the city. Cities have historically attracted people who appreciate variety and actively seek it. As globalization of an earlier kind defined 18th-century British commercial culture, Scottish philosopher David Hume noted that many people "flock into cities; love to receive and communicate knowledge. . . . Curiosity allures the wise; vanity the foolish; and pleasure both. Particular clubs and societies are everywhere formed."4 In addition, Hume and other British writers noted that commercial dynamism increased low-income people's wages, which was good for society as a whole. Dynamism was not just for the elite and powerful. It was for everyone.

But the strength of cities can become their undoing. They die when anti-dynamic forces gain too strong a foothold. Sometimes these forces stem from the complacent dependence on a few core companies and sometimes on the protective motives of cronyism and exclusivity. These forces lead to a kind of stasis that is unwelcome to the rough-and-tumble variety of urban life. In our day, widespread NIMBYism in the name of sustainability, heavy-handed regulatory power aimed at supporting special interests, and rigid barriers to market access and activity are all anti-dynamic forces with which we need to reckon.

Today's urban unrest has made this stasis both easier and harder to see. While activists and the media have largely focused on the immediate sources of unrest during our season of racial discord and an unrelenting pandemic, the underlying problems of the urban ruling class have been in plain view for some time. Our current situation echoes Edward Banfield's observation a half century ago in The Unheavenly City: The Nature and Future of Our Urban Crisis that amid racial unrest and decaying neighborhoods, the

ascendancy of the middle and upper middle classes has increased feelings of guilt at "social failures." . . . In the upper-middle-class view it is always society that is to blame. Society, according to this view, could solve all problems if it only tried hard enough; that a problem continues to exist is therefore proof positive of its guilt.5

Today's urban overlords too often cast the blame for inequality and racism on larger forces occurring in the country as a whole while evading responsibility for the stasis they have created and maintained.

Cities are not ideological battlefields, nor should they be the seats of class-based segregation. They should be dynamic centers of creation and opportunity for all levels of society if they are to continue to thrive, and they need leadership that understands this.

Overcoming the stasis of elite interests and reinvigorating dynamic activity should be the goal of not only today's urban leaders but also policymakers at all levels of government. The president who takes office in January 2021 must grasp that-even if suburban and rural America are more often the swing votes in our politics-cities will continue to play an outsized role in America's economic and cultural life, even after the pandemic. Our leaders should therefore aim to have as many cities as possible in America functioning dynamically for the good of all people across all income, racial, and age groups. Our entire society would benefit from cities geared to enabling people to flourish.

Why Cities Matter

So much of our politics today is defined by the "urban-rural divide" and a populism whose antipathy toward "coastal elites" is typically understood as anti-urban. Defending cities at a time like this may be unpopular (or at least anti-populist), but there is no escaping that cities matter a great deal to America's continued economic and social well-being. Besides, many of the nation's fastest-growing cities are not coastal but rather inland powerhouses such as Denver, Colorado; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Texas' five largest metro areas, all of which are among the nation's 15 fastest-growing cities over the past 10 years.6

Which cities will be most dominant economically, culturally, and politically 25 years from now may not be certain, but that cities will continue their dominance seems quite certain. Just as prognosticators' visions of a decentralizing society in the early days of the internet turned out to be exactly the opposite of what happened over the past 25 years, today's predictions of post-COVID-19 decentralization are likely to prove misguided. The forces of attraction that metro areas possess are just too strong.

One 2019 analysis found that just 31 counties, or 1 percent of all US counties, account for nearly one-third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). These same counties have 22 percent of America's population and 26 percent of the employed workforce.7 Another 2019 analysis found that real GDP increased from the previous year in 96 percent of large US counties with populations greater than 500,000 and 93 percent in counties with more than 100,000, but it increased only 72 percent in counties with fewer than 100,000 residents. (These smaller counties are 83 percent of all US counties.)8

These population centers drive much of the innovation for which America's economy is known. The top 100 largest metro areas are home to about 60 percent of the population but 92 percent of patents filed.9 The share of inventions in urban areas has been growing and will not reverse anytime soon.

"Which cities will be most dominant economically, culturally, and politically 25 years from now may not be certain, but that cities will continue their dominance seems quite certain."

This increasing concentration of talent and productivity is often called "urbanization" but might more aptly, if clunkily, be called "metropolitanization." Metropolitan areas have grown stronger and more dominant over time as innovation- and knowledge-based enterprises flourish in places where talent clusters. Not all knowledge workers flock into central cities. Many prefer low-density living even as they benefit from their proximity to the city.10 There is little evidence that these trends toward metropolitan concentration will change course anytime soon, and even if the pandemic pushes people out of cities for a time, they most likely will only change addresses within the same metro area.

Competitive Federalism and Migration

One way to understand dynamic cities is to look at the winners and losers in the game of "competitive federalism" that is America. Unlike Europe, where picking up and leaving your stagnating town for a more opportunity-rich city is limited by language and cultural barriers, America benefits from a common language and similar vocational norms and institutions. This enables cities to compete for residents of other urban areas who are tiring of high costs, dysfunctional institutions, and other anti-dynamic forces. It may be a jolt for a New Yorker to move to Houston, Texas, but that is nothing like moving from Rome, Italy, to Frankfurt, Germany

Some analyses of cities focus on their market-sector dominance, innovation concentration, and cultural influence, which are all important, but their relative competitiveness as destinations is also an important gauge of their strength. Competitiveness is a blend of quality of life, cost of living, and what we might call "opportunity culture," or the vocational variety available to people with certain skills and aspirations.

Cities are where people move and cluster to pursue the American dream, however they define it. Urban policymakers can learn something about what aspirational people want by looking at where they are moving. In particular, two themes emerge.

First, Americans want to live in and around cities but not necessarily the famous top-tier ones. More Americans live in metro areas now than in the past, but they have been leaving the behemoths such as New York and Los Angeles for a while. The five fastest-growing large cities over the past decade, measured by the percentage of population gain, are Seattle, Washington; Fort Worth, Texas; Austin, Texas; Denver; and Charlotte.11 In raw numbers, over the past decade, San Antonio, Texas, added more residents

than Los Angeles did, and Fort Worth added more than New York City did.12 When Americans are looking for urban advantages, they gravitate toward cities that offer opportunity but that are more affordable, are less congested, and have newer infrastructure.

Migrants to these opportunity cities originate from outlying nearby counties as much as (or more than) from big cities in other states. In other words, people are fleeing both overly costly large metro areas and stagnating smaller places. For instance, among the top 10 counties people left to move to Denver between 2013 and 2017, six are outlying Colorado counties. Non-Colorado counties include Los Angeles and Cook County (Chicago). Seven of Austin migrants' top points of origin are other Texas counties, while non-Texas origins include Los Angeles and Santa Clara County in California.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, young professionals share the preference for "opportunity cities" over "sexy cities." New York and San Francisco have been losing those age 25 to 39 for a while, as millennials have chosen instead to head for Seattle, Denver, Austin, San Antonio, Charlotte, Houston, and Nashville, Tennessee.13 This aspirational demographic is an important bellwether for urban success because it signals what people willing to move at the most crucial part of their early careers really want.

The second theme is that a preference for less-dense communities is hardwired into Americans' collective DNA, even as they seek out urban lifestyles. "Judging from the direction that American urbanism has taken during the second half of the twentieth century," writes Witold Rybczynski, "one answer of the marketplace is unequivocal-Americans want to live in cities that are spread out." He continues,

This is not simply suburbanization. All the cities that have experienced vigorous population growth during the second half of the twentieth century-Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, San Jose, Atlanta-have grown by spreading out. These are horizontal cities, with generally low population densities, typically less than ten people per acre, compared to fifteen to twenty people per acre in the older, vertical cities.14

For those who would prefer to move if given the chance, the desire for lower density is nearly universal. Recent American Enterprise Institute survey data show that only 23 percent of city dwellers would prefer to live in the suburbs, and another 23 percent would prefer a small town. Meanwhile, 22 percent of suburbanites would prefer to live in a small town, and 24 percent of small towners would prefer to live in a rural area.15 Suburban, small town, and rural preference to move into the city is in the low single digits.

And yet even as Americans prefer their space, they also prefer to live amid a blend of urban amenities. AEI's survey finds that Americans associate parks, stores, restaurants, libraries, and gyms with successful neighborhoods. People want to be close to as many of these amenities as possible, whether they are in the city or a suburb.16

In addition, even though the rate of population growth in suburban counties outpaces central urban counties,17 a recent Brookings Institution study found that downtowns are booming once again, evidence that an important subpopulation does want the benefits of a dense urban lifestyle.18 When people "flock to cities" in America today, they are a mix of urban and suburban dwellers who want a variety of lifestyle options. But they are united in their desire to be part of something more dynamic than where they left.

Stasis, Anti-Dynamism, and Lost Opportunity

Despite the enormous contribution of America's dynamic urban areas to the country as a whole, they are also a source of great unrest and stasis. The unrest, recently expressed in protests following the police killing of George Floyd, has roots in the growing geographic and class segregation in our cities. The stasis is manifest in NIMBY resistance to adapt neighborhoods to current socioeconomic reality, the self-dealing of educational establishments, and a command-and-control approach to public safety. When looking to blame someone for the unrest, urban elites and the media often focus on ideological targets in our "national conversations," such as racism, but much unrest stems from inequities created much closer to home.

The concentration of poverty in urban areas and growing inequality are the result of regional and local dynamics. According to a recent study by the New York Federal Reserve, a list of the 15 most unequal metropolitan areas in 1980 would not have included New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, or Washington, DC. Today, all are high on that list. In 1980, six of the 15 most unequal metro areas were smaller ones in the South, and only two on the list-Orlando, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana-were major metro areas with more than one million residents. Today, the top 15 most unequal cities are dominated by major metro areas and do not include any southern cities.19

Moreover, every one of the 15 cities today has an inequality ratio greater than the most unequal metro area in 1980. A similar Brookings study found that the 10 most unequal metro areas in the country are dominated by major metro areas, while the least unequal are predominantly midsize and smaller metro areas such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.20 A recent Economic Innovation Group study found that poor people today likely live in neighborhoods where the poverty rate exceeds 30 percent, compared to 10 percent in 1980.21 These bastions of inequality have in common an infusion of wealth and local leaders' decisions to limit housing supply and meaningful educational and vocational options for lower-income people.

Inequality measures would not be such terrible news if the relative mobility prospects of lower-income people were good in the end. The more troubling reality those measures indicate, though, is the segregation of too many lower-income people from opportunity, good jobs, and pathways upward. Today's urban reformers can address these problems by taking seriously the barriers to opportunity reflected in high housing costs, the mismatch between educational institutions and opportunity, and the absurd pile of barriers that keep lower-income people from good jobs.

The past decade has witnessed a growing consensus that, first, expensive housing in growing and larger cities is a barrier to too many workers who would otherwise benefit from living there. Second, it is driven largely by land-use, zoning, and related restrictions. This has been a welcome turn from previous decades during which policymakers primarily focused on subsidies as the means to address unaffordable housing.

These limits and restrictions also have a profound broader economic effect. Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti found that less regulation in New York, San Jose, and San Francisco alone, not to mention other cities, would increase national GDP by nearly 10 percent. They also found that the vast majority of America's aggregate GDP growth over the past half century came from cities with lower levels of regulations.22

Metro areas wrestle with the tension between the seemingly hardwired American desire for less density and the need to increase housing supply to keep homes affordable. But too many have sacrificed the latter for the former.

Another anti-dynamic force is the interest-driven, hoary human capital complex originally created to help underserved people. Our federal workforce development programs and social welfare programs include too many outdated and incongruent requirements that disincentivize mobility, both geographically and economically.

Contributing to the anti-dynamism of many cities is the bureaucratization of common life. For instance, skills that used to be validated purely by the market-such as whether someone cuts hair or decorates living rooms to a paying customer's satisfaction-now require government certification and accompanying costs. To require a license for services that pose no obvious health or safety threat is one of the grave injustices of our time that tramples on grassroots entrepreneurs' aspirations.

When the forces of urbanization, which are largely good for society, combine with the anti-dynamic forces of interest and cronyism, we end up in a place where those within the city walls are flourishing and those without are languishing. The project of the next generation of urban reformers is to bring down those walls and pave new roads into the city.

A New Urban Agenda

The president of the United States should resist any temptation to treat cities as ideological battlefields in the culture wars or outposts of federal agencies. Rather, he should stand ready to encourage and assist urban reformers where he can. This requires not a single strategy or approach but a general attitude of deference that federalism entails and a healthy level of comfort with different solutions for different types of problems.

The problem with urban policymaking is that it does not lend itself to a singular overarching policy balm. Bringing down the obstacles to opportunity requires a lot of blocking and tackling, localized policy innovation, and nothing that sounds sexy. But that does not make it unimportant. What follows are some areas in which policy entrepreneurs can roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Take Place Seriously. Place matters. The sacredness of the city and the community is real, even in its post-religious sense. The AEI Survey on Community and Society finds that Americans on average derive a stronger sense of identity from their neighborhood and city than from their political ideology or race and ethnicity.23 Where we are from is a big part of who we are.

One implication of this is that neighborhoods rather than housing should be the focus of urban development. Cities need affordable neighborhoods, not just affordable housing, if they care about all their residents flourishing.

As AEI survey data on community amenities show, well-rounded neighborhoods produce the positive effects associated with a strong civil society: neighborliness, mutual aid, social stability, and even happiness.24 Jane Jacobs' insight that communities are stronger when their essential components hang together instead of being strung across disconnected landscapes bears out in the data, as does Richard John Neuhaus and Peter Berger's understanding of neighborhoods as essential mediating structures in democratic society.25

This suggests that neighborhood revitalization plans include public spaces, grocery and retail access, and other important amenities such as libraries (which, even in our digital age, residents rate highly as essential neighborhood institutions). A district-based approach allows an urban area to balance the basic American desire for both city living and low density. Some areas should be denser. Others should be less so. A successful metro area needs both, and it needs residents of both to have access to amenities that define vibrancy for many Americans.

Address the Affordability Conundrum. Over time, lower-income workers have become the least geographically mobile population in the country. The reasons for this are complex and not fully understood, though housing unaffordability is clearly a factor. The time is ripe for a national reform movement, city by city and state by state, similar to the adoption of school reforms.

Numerous reform models are emerging. San Diego, California, recently adopted a wide range of code amendments to improve permitting and create greater flexibility on various lot, mitigation, and usage requirements. The city also enacted a range of incentives to encourage greater density where possible without mandates and made it easier to construct accessory dwelling units, which have been outlawed in many municipalities across the country.

Other cities such as Austin and Arlington, Virginia, have also created similar incentives without mandates. Minneapolis, Minnesota, has allowed the construction of duplexes and triplexes in neighborhoods that previously allowed only single-family homes and permitted multistory buildings along transit corridors. Portland, Oregon, recently allowed up to four homes to be built on single residential lots in the city, and Durham, North Carolina, has reformed minimum lot requirements and permitted subdividing lots into multiple residences.

Future reformers may want to build on such developments by following three principles advanced by economist Edward Glaeser, a pioneer in land-use regulation and development. First, replace lengthy codes with a system of simple fees. Second, limit and simplify the areas that can be protected. Third, give residents clearly defined rules for protecting their neighborhoods from unwanted development.26 These three principles together can guide city leaders to a more rational, equitable use of land for the public.

While the fix to our cities' affordability problems is mostly local, the federal government can play a limited role. First, it could require a "housing impact analysis" to ensure federal funds are not unwittingly contributing to rising costs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development produced a template for such an analysis in 2006, which could be updated.27

Second, federal housing and community development funds could be conditioned on how well localities' zoning and land-use codes allow for greater housing supply. Until the Donald Trump administration ended the Barack Obama-era Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule in 2020, it was conducting a regulatory reform process aimed at changing the rule along these lines.28 Such an approach carries real risk, but done properly, the federal government-or, better yet, a third-party rating agency-could award points to recipients of federal funds based on the flexibility of their land-use codes and allocate federal funding according to a formula. Nothing should be mandated, but the message would be clear that localities that choose to drive up costs with overly restrictive land-use policies should not expect the federal government to come to their rescue with subsidies for "affordable housing."

Open Access to "Opportunity Markets." Another way to increase the odds that lower-income people will move closer to opportunity in a metro area is to make it easier for governors and mayors to use federal resources to assist displaced and underemployed workers in knowing where to move.

One way to do this is to combine better data tools with greater flexibility in federal workforce development programs. Technology already exists to help employers and economic developers understand which types of jobs requiring which types of skills at which pay level are growing or diminishing in regional areas. State policymakers should be able to use federal workforce funds to make this type of data available to everyone, on their phones and computer screens.

Next, federal policy should free up funding currently used for outdated requirements such as physical one-stop job centers to help job seekers relocate near the training in which the new jobs app suggested they enroll. Resources should be available to help with higher rent levels, commuting costs, and other "life barriers" to finish a certification or degree program in an opportunity-rich part of a city. When figuring out which programs in what part of town open the most doors, too many underemployed people are flying blind. It does not have to be that way.

A more ambitious policy goal to increase mobility is benefit portability. The rise of gig economy workers has given this idea renewed attention in recent years, but it would also help a larger class of lower-income workers. When benefits tie a worker to an employer, as in the case of health insurance, or to a geographic area, as with various federal social insurance programs that require state and local administration, people are less free to job hop the old-fashioned way-from one employer to another in a competitive marketplace. Designing benefit portability is fraught with political pitfalls, but supporting efforts underway could be a good place to start. A handful of states and cities have proposed various portable-benefit programs in recent years, and while they are mostly focused on gig economy workers, they could be studied as a model. Allowing other workers to opt in to such programs in lieu of traditional benefits would be one way to build a base of subscribers to evaluate.

Finally, urban policymakers should capitalize on the momentum that has been growing over the past decade to reform occupational licensing laws that create steep barriers into the labor market and diminish local entrepreneurship. The time has come to accelerate the movement. This will come mostly through state-level policy entrepreneurship, such as recent reforms in Arizona to recognize licenses from other states.29 Bipartisan federal legislation in 2018 allows a portion of federal job-training funding to be used by state agencies to coordinate efforts to consolidate and eliminate onerous licenses.30 Multistate cooperation is the next opportunity to expand these efforts to free up more occupations for lower-wage workers.

Relearn the Lessons of Community Policing. Commentators on the left and right have noted in recent years that too many police departments have become militarized and operate on a command-and-control crime response platform. This has contributed to the unrest currently on display across the country, as residents and police see themselves as opponents rather than part of the same community. One problem has been the deterioration of community policing, which has existed for decades but swept across the country in the 1990s after the creation of a federal program to support its implementation.31 Community policing, simply put, got officers out of squad cars and into the neighborhoods in which they worked with schools, churches, charities, and other neighborhood groups on crime-prevention strategies.

While many municipalities still practice community policing, it has declined as a practice over the past couple of decades. Several theories blame things such as city budgets or the post-9/11 environment, but whatever the case, the time is ripe to revisit the benefits of having police out in communities, responding to concerns before crimes happen.

Accelerate Innovation in Schools. The pandemic has taught us that we need both traditional schools and new educational models, especially in cities. Low-income children have suffered considerably in math as their schools have closed. Affluent children have fared better owing to their access to alternative modes of learning. The goal of urban education reformers should be to extend publicly supported variety and options to all families in their jurisdictions, regardless of income.

Traditional public schools are community institutions that produce an immense amount of social capital and resources in addition to education. Urban leaders' first priority should be to ensure they are safely open, as other countries have shown is possible with practical clarity and discipline.

But just as charter schools have injected positive pressure into urban school districts, new types of schooling could expand to serve more students. For instance, microschooling, which combines distance learning with small groups of home-based students, takes the impersonality out of online schooling.32 Hybrid homeschooling, which involves a combination of campus and home-based schooling, provides the flexibility of homeschooling with the structure of traditional schooling.33 In traditional schools, another idea is to grant individual teachers a charter to operate independently just as charter schools operate independently of their districts.34

Cities are inherently complex and diverse, which schooling options should reflect. Federal and state policy need to support this diversity rather than uniformity, which has been the habit of the education establishment.

Experiment with a Charter City Concept. Charter cities are mostly a concept in development economics, promoted by Nobel laureate Paul Romer, in which cities in a developing country are freed of the host country's rules and regulations. A similar idea could benefit American cities that are stagnating and need a reboot. Drawing on an idea for a "superwaiver" in the early 2000s, cities could be relieved of numerous federal program requirements to combine housing, infrastructure, community development, environmental, and welfare resources into more streamlined and customized plans. The waiver could be in exchange for reduced benefit levels and specific housing affordability standards. Evaluations a few years hence could form the basis for continuation.

Take Regions Seriously. If greater worker mobility seems like a boon to metro areas, smarter regional strategies could broaden its benefits. Governors in almost every state are familiar with the problem of the hinterlands. As metro areas produce more of a state's GDP and suck up more workers, small towns and rural areas complain about being "left behind," even when-as is often the case-they are net recipients of state tax dollars while the urban areas are net donors. A governor cannot tell them, politically speaking, to "reinvent yourself or die." But in many cases, that is exactly the prospect they face.

One way to deal with this issue is to recognize the obvious, even if it is hard to admit: Many outlying areas will never bounce back unless they are connected economically to their nearest metro hub. Rather than pursuing economic development strategies aimed at getting a factory here and a warehouse there (which is what most states do), carve up a state into regions around metro hubs and fund strategies that connect the outlying areas. One model was Indiana's Regional Cities Initiative, which used a combination of funding to support regional plans that created clear links, say, between a small town that envisioned itself as a bedroom community and the nearest metro center that served as a job hub. (Full disclosure: I helped with the policy design of the initiative.35) Such initiatives should be studied and used to change federal community development programs' priorities.

Cities need immigrants, and allocating visas based on regional and local interests is one way to address the need. This approach also depoliticizes the immigration issue somewhat, as it moves the issue off the national stage and onto state and local ones. One idea in a proposed 2017 federal bill is to allow states to sponsor immigrants, which would in turn allow places with lower in-migration rates to make up for their slow growth rates by attracting more immigrants.36 Another idea from the Economic Innovation Group is to allow communities in stagnating areas to opt in to a "heartland visa" program that reserves a certain percentage of visas for high-skilled immigrants willing to relocate to those areas.37

Urban Engines of National Prosperity

Cities will continue to dominate our economic and social lives. The question during a season of resurgent populism is not how to double down on the urban-rural divide and pit the heartland against cities. Rather, it is how to make cities more dynamic for more people, which in turn means overcoming the stasis and barriers for which urban overseers themselves are predominantly responsible.

More dynamism will require a new generation of contrarian policy entrepreneurs in America's cities, supported by open-minded policymakers in state capitals and Washington, DC. The president has a key role to play here-in how he talks about cities, the sort of economic agenda he pursues, and his attitude toward opportunity, mobility, and community.


View Citations Hide Citations

1. Joel Kotkin, The City: A Global History (New York: Random House, 2005), xviii.

2. Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects (New York: MJF Books, 1961).

3. Geoffrey West, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economics, and Companies (New York: Penguin, 2017), 268.

4. David Hume, "Of Refinement in the Arts," in Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1985), 271.

5. Edward Banfield, The Unheavenly City Revisited (Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., 1974), 75-76.

6. US Census Bureau, "City and Town Population Totals: 2010-2019," May 7, 2020,

7. Andre Tartar and Reade Pickert, "A Third of America's Economy Is Concentrated in Just 31 Counties," Bloomberg, December 16, 2019, graphics/2019-us-gdp-concentration-counties/.

8. US Bureau of Economic Analysis, "Local Area Gross Domestic Product 2016," press release, December 12, 2019, pdf.

9. Jonathan Rothwell et al., "Patenting Prosperity: Invention and Economic Performance in the United States and Its Metropolitan Areas," Brookings Institution, February 1, 2013,

10. Citirix, "Remote Work and the Talent Crunch," March 2019, https://www.citrix. com/content/dam/citrix/en_us/documents/other/remote-work-the-talent-crunch.pdf.

11. US Census Bureau, "City and Town Population Totals: 2010-2019."

12. US Census Bureau, "Southern and Western Regions Experienced Rapid Growth," press release, May 21, 2020, south-west-fastest-growing.html.

13. Joel Kotkin, "Forget the Urban Stereotypes: Where Millennials Are Really Moving," Forbes, August 2, 2017,

14. Witold Rybczynski, Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities (New York: Scribner, 2010), 166-68.

15. Daniel A. Cox, "Hardship, Anxiety, and Optimism: Racial and Partisan Disparities in Americans' Response to COVID-19," American Enterprise Institute, June 16, 2020,

16. Daniel A. Cox and Ryan Streeter, "The Importance of Place: Amenities as a Source of Social Connection and Trust," American Enterprise Institute, May 20, 2019,

17. Kim Fryer et al., "Demographic and Economic Trends in Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities," Pew Research Center, May 22, 2018, https://www.pewsocialtrends. org/2018/05/22/demographic-and-economic-trends-in-urban-suburban-and-ruralcommunities/.

18. Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane, "Big-City Downtowns Are Booming: But Can Their Momentum Outlast the Coronavirus?," Brookings Institution, May 6, 2020,

19. Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, "Why Are Some Places So Much More Unequal Than Others?," Federal Reserve Bank of New York, December 2019, https://www. abel-deitz.pdf.

20. Alan Berube, "City and Metropolitan Income Inequality Data Reveals Ups and Downs Through 2016," Brookings Institution, February 5, 2018, https://www.brookings. edu/research/city-and-metropolitan-income-inequality-data-reveal-ups-and-downsthrough-2016/.

21. August Benzow and Kenan Fikri, "The Expanded Geography of High-Poverty Neighborhoods," Economic Innovation Group, May 2020,

22. Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, "Housing Constraints and Spatial Misallocation," National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2015, papers/w21154.

23. Samuel J. Abrams et al., AEI Survey on Community and Society: Social Capital, Civic Health, and Quality of Life in the United States, American Enterprise Institute, February 5, 2019,

24. Cox and Streeter, "The Importance of Place."

25. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961); and Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhaus, To Empower People: From State to Civil Society, 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 1996), chapter II.

26. Edward Glaeser, The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin, 2012), 161-62.

27. David Dacquisto and David Rodda, "Housing Impact Analysis," US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, January 2006,

28. US Department of Housing and Urban Development, "HUD Issues Improved Fair Housing Rule," press release, January 7, 2020, releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_20_002.

29. Eric Boehm, "Arizona Will Be First State to Recognize Out-of-State Occupational Licenses," Reason, April 5, 2019,

30. Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, H.R. 2353, 115th Cong. § 124.8.b, text.

31. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, "The COPS Program After Four Years-National Evaluation," press release, August 2000, pdffiles1/nij/183644.pdf.

32. Matthew Ladner, "Bringing the Joy Back to Education: Microschooling and Distancing Learning," American Enterprise Institute, August 17, 2020, https://www.aei. org/research-products/report/bringing-the-joy-back-to-education-microschoolingand-distance-learning/.

33. Michael McShane, "Hybrid Homeschooling," American Enterprise Institute, June 9, 2020,

34. Juliet Squire, "Charter Teachers to Expand Choice and Transform Schools," American Enterprise Institute, July 14, 2020, report/charter-teachers-to-expand-choice-and-transform-schooling/.

35. Indiana Economic Development Corporation of the State of Indiana, "Regional Cities Initiative," press release,

36. State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017, S. 1040, 115th Cong., 22%3A%5B%22The+State+Sponsored+Visa+Pilot+Program+Act%22%5D%7D&r=1.

37. Adam Ozimek, Kenan Fikri, and John Lettieri, "From Managing Decline to Building the Future: Could a Heartland Visa Help Struggling Regions?," Economic Innovation Group, April 2019,