This is why attractive cities do better economically

city

(Pedro Lastra, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Why do people choose to live in one city over another? According to new research, more attractive urban centres command a “beauty premium”, which helps entice new residents and create employment opportunities.

The idea of a beauty premium is not new. A causal link between a person’s perceived good looks and career success is long established, and a similar phenomenon could occur with attractive places.

Researchers Gerald A Carlino of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Albert Saiz of Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at the relationship between a city’s beauty and key growth indicators.

The study built upon traditional measures of the importance of amenities for urban development, such as the prevalence of parks, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Picture perfect

Adopting a unique approach to measuring beauty, the researchers used records of tourist visits and photos of picturesque locations posted online to isolate each city’s perceived attractiveness. The results were compared with population growth figures, urban regeneration and levels of neighbourhood gentrification within city centres.

The results show that cities perceived as twice as attractive as others experienced more than 10% additional population growth and employment opportunities in the two decades leading to 2010.

Of those people drawn to picturesque urban centres, a higher proportion were college graduates, high-skilled workers and employers than in other cities. Urban beauty and lower taxes are the two most important predictors of overall growth in a city’s population.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the future of cities?

The study found the influx of new arrivals to beautiful cities pushes up property prices, particularly in areas with little scope for new housing to be built. Specific neighbourhoods can also benefit from localised urban beauty premiums, drawing affluent, educated people back to live in, and around, the central business districts (CBD) of cities.

The gentrification of these areas draws new residents – often displacing existing tenants who can no longer afford the high living costs – and can spill over into neighbouring industrial or logistics districts, where warehouses and factories are converted into high-end houses and amenities.

Image: UN via Mashable/Statista

An attractive investment

Carlino and Saiz describe a new type of neighbourhood that is emerging in cityscapes considered to be beautiful. Central recreational districts (CRD) offer affluent newcomers landmarks, historic sites, parks, entertainment and tourist attractions. The resurgence of industrial districts in New York, like Soho, is a good example of a CRD that attracts new residents, in contrast to the declining trend of many American city centres.

The research shows that all cities can make themselves more attractive. While it’s true some urban centres enjoy more rivers, mountains and appealing natural features than others, these features don’t necessarily make them inherently more appealing for people to live in.

Investment in parks, museums, landmarks and historic spaces increases urban beautification, which draws in more affluent residents. Returning to New York as an example, Manhattan’s High Line project has turned a disused elevated train track, which was due for demolition, into a public park offering residents and visitors a combination of nature, art and design. Such investment decisions have raised the area’s profile and attracted a high volume of visitors and new residents.

According to UN figures, 68% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. A growing population combined with a migratory trend from rural to urban living could create 2.5 billion new city dwellers by mid-century. New investment in infrastructure and facilities will be required to accommodate these numbers.

While investment in urban beautification projects boosts regeneration and economic growth, it can also displace existing residents who are pushed out by rising living costs.

Policymakers have the option of providing affordable housing options and putting in place measures to reduce poverty inequality, to ensure the beauty premium works to the benefit of all.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

These are the countries best prepared for health emergencies

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

Call to revitalize ‘language of the ancestors’ for survival of future generations: Indigenous chief

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

Black babies more likely to survive when cared for by Black doctors, suggests new study

EU Commission spends billions without achieving targets

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

EU-Vietnam free trade deal gets green light in trade committee

Here are five things to know about the future of being human

UN health agency spotlights stalled effort to close health divide across Europe, in new report

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

Here’s what I learned at Davos 2020

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

We need to talk about integration after migration. Here are four ways we can improve it

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

Health is nothing but the main consequence of climate change

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

5 priorities for leaders in the new reality of COVID-19

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Copyright: MEPs update rules for the digital age

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

Top UN political official updates Security Council on Iran nuclear deal

I created a class to teach zero waste. It turned into so much more

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

‘Amid stormy global seas, UN charter remains our moral anchor’, says Guterres on United Nations Day

ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

‘Our goal is to democratize the air.’ How aerial transportation will shape cities of the future

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

Israeli security forces’ response to Gaza protests ‘a recipe for more bloodshed’, says UN expert

Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life

Yemen ceasefire deal: ‘Potential’ now to restore humanitarian lifeline to millions

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Celebrating Gaston Ramon – the vet who discovered vaccinology’s secret weapon

2 trillion drinks containers are made every year – so where do they go?

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

Business is a crucial partner in solving the mental health challenge

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

State aid: Commission approves German scheme for very high capacity broadband networks in Bavaria

These airports are now opening their doors to non-fliers

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

There are 3 barriers blocking good menstrual hygiene for all women. Here’s how we overcome them

Denmark’s last circus elephants are retiring – here’s what might take their place

Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It’s time to change the way global tax works

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s