My latest post is available over at New Geography. It is called “The Successful, the Stable, and the Struggling“. For those who enjoy arguing about “tiers” of cities, I took all metro ares over 500,000 in the Midwest and sorted them into three buckets based on population growth. The exception was Chicago, which I put into a “global city” category by itself since it is so unique.
I’ve noted this before, but all of the metros that are growing faster than the national average are state capitals except one (Kansas City). Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, Indianapolis, Des Moines, and Madison are growing faster than the national average.
Anyone care to speculate on reasons why? Some possibilities:
- Excessive state spending. I don’t have hard numbers in front of me, but generally larger cities are major exporters of funds to state government, so I’m skeptical.
- Attracts the creative class (thundermutt hypothesis). Thunder suggests that state capitals tend to have the state’s major law firms, the newspaper of record, lobbying groups and various other hangers on of government that then to attract ambitious and talented people.
- People churn. One theory I tabled is that since state capitals routinely have people from all over the state there, they don’t form calcified social networks. This churn creates more flexible, open social environments that are needed for economic success.
Whatever the case, I don’t know that this has been rigorously studied. It would be interesting to extend the analysis, and do some quantitative digging. Could possible be an interesting dissertation.