Living with the Global City
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the issue of how city-regions can successfully compete in the emerging
global economy. In the past, policy makers set about managing regional
economic development under the protective wings of the nation-state.
Today, the focus is on efforts to sustain competitiveness in global
(rather than purely national) markets by encouraging new local business
formation, attracting investment and creating the kind of institutional
environments needed to promote high levels of economic performance.
But how do local policy makers balance market forces with the forms
of inter-firm collaboration and cooperation that appear to be essential
for high levels of innovation and economic success? What new conflicts
are generated by the increasing activism of policy makers in city-regions
all over the world, and how can these be dealt with at the national
and supra-national levels? How do we ensure broad accountability
in the policy-making process while taking into account industry's
need for efficiency and responsiveness to rapid change?
questions have vital implications not only for economic development
but also for how we define citizenship and political participation
generally in an era in which cities like Los Angeles, Tokyo and
Seoul are all faced with the stresses and strains of globalization.
How do we plan for the public interest in, say, Los Angeles, when
our fate is closely tied to what happens thousands of miles away
in Beijing or Bangkok? With our economic and social prospects increasingly
tied to the political initiatives and capabilities of the cities
in which we live, citizenship may once again become associated,
as it was classically, with city-regions. But what forms of citizenship
can meet the needs of the increasingly diverse populations — including
large groups of low-wage labor migrants — that live in the world's
major city-regions? This question is made all the more urgent in
view of the withdrawal of many of the well-to-do from civic life
into insular gated enclaves.
recently released 10th Annual United Nations Human Development Report
underlines another major challenge city-regions face: the ever-widening
gap between rich and poor. Globalization stimulates the growth of
high-wage occupations in city-regions while promoting the proliferation
of marginal, low-skill jobs. There are high social costs associated
with this outcome. In California's Silicon Valley, where Asian and
Hispanic immigrants assemble electronic parts in their homes for
as little as one cent per component, the bottom 20 percent of wage
earners have seen their real wages decline over the past 20 years.
Such inequalities in the distribution of wealth pose a "dangerous
polarization" between rich and poor, the United Nations warns. Yet
immigrant populations play a vital role in large city-regions; not
only do they supply much of the labor to industry, but they also
represent an important reservoir of energetic small entrepreneurs.