Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Make that 300... No, make that 400 years

From Edward Glaeser:
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York is often credited with saying that the way to create a great city is to “create a great university and wait 200 years,” and the body of evidence on the role that universities play in generating urban growth continues to grow. (Disclosure: I work for a university.)
I'm a big believer in more funding for education and research, but as for generating urban growth, the evidence is decidedly Glaeserian.

I'll let Joseph take it from here:

Mark has been discussing Edward Glaeser and his comments on how universities Now, I am a big fan of universities and think that they serve an important role in global economic development. However, I am dubious that they make any particular community prosperous. Consider New Haven, CT -- the home of Yale University (recently ranked the #11 university in the world).

According to wikipedia, the poverty rate in New Haven is 24%, which compares unfavorably with the rest of the United States where it is 14%. The poverty rate in New Haven, despite the presence of Yale, is nearly twice that of the United States as a whole.

Now, one might note that many of the poor residents of New Haven are likely to be students. This is true. But these students still use municipal services and thus require the local tax base to support them (in addition to the long term residents). They do not (after they graduate and make additional income) send money back to New Haven so, in a sense, New Haven is actually subsiding the urban communities that Yale graduates move to.

So, it is actually possible that a large university in a small community could be a drag on the economy due to the lower per capita tax base. Plus, you have a large segment of the population with only a short term interest in the community which may make long term planning more difficult. And New Haven, CT is not the only university town that I can think of with high levels of poverty.

Furthermore, if a strong local university (like the University of Washington) is a solution to urban poverty (as it was presented in the Detroit versus Seattle comparison of Edward Glaeser) then it is unclear why a stronger economy has not grown up around Yale which is a strong school by any measure.

No comments:

Post a Comment