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Why cities keep growing

Geoffrey West is one of the worlds great scientists on how cities truly operate.

Geoff discusses his views on how cities grow and the benefits and problems associated witssesh that growth.  A fascinating viewpoint.

Here’s one example :

“The bigger the city, the more wages you can expect, the more educational institutions in principle, more cultural events, more patents are produced, it’s more innovative and so on. Remarkably, all to the same degree. There was a universal exponent which turned out to be approximately 1.15 which translated to English says something like the following:  If you double the size of a city from 50,000 to a hundred thousand, a million to two million, five million to ten million, it doesn’t matter what, systematically, you get a roughly 15 percent increase in productivity, patents, the number of research institutions, wages and so on, and you get systematically a 15 percent saving in length of roads and general infrastructure”

So as a city,  you have a choice.  To grow and innovate.  Or retreat and run the risk of total collapse.  It also shows why house prices might increase more rapidly as the city gets bigger and bigger. That’s something we can all understand from each of Australia’s main capital cities.

The ability to use resources for a ‘bulk discount’ applies to the makeup of a city.  Yet Geoff warns that you can’t have the growth of wealth,  without the growth of other nasty elements.

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