A Compact Core is Better

Yesterday, I wrote that density — or, as I’ll try to refer to it after a great comment, “compactness” — is one way to increase incomes. It’s a point that perhaps over simplifies reality, but it’s one touched on recently by Richard Florida:

Economists, urbanists, and place makers have found density to be associated with everything from greater energy efficiency to higher levels of skilled and talented people, higher rates of innovation, and higher income.

That quote comes from an article in which Florida discusses different types of compactness in cities. After some analysis, Florida concludes that cities with concentrated density in their cores do better:

Ever since Jane Jacobs, urban thinkers and economists have argued that clusters of talented and ambitious people increase one another’s productivity and the productivity of the broader community, spurring economic growth. So, what about economic growth: Is it higher in metros where density is more concentrated? The short answer is yes.

Economic growth and development, according to several key measures, is higher in metros that are not just dense, but where density is more concentrated.

Historic apartments in downtown Provo.

Historic apartments in downtown Provo.

Florida goes on to point out that tech, business, the arts, and diversity all thrive in cities with concentrated density in the center. It’s also worth mentioning that Florida’s point is that different types of density have different types of effects. This is good news for Provo because the central neighborhoods are already the most compact and, more importantly, because downtown perhaps has the most potential for adding density.

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