Is There a New Urbanism? The Growth of U.S. Cities in the 1990s
NBER Working Paper No. 8357
The 1990s were an unusually good decade for the largest American cities and, in particular, for the cities of the Midwest. However, fundamentally urban growth in the 1990s looked extremely similar to urban growth during the prior post-war decades. The growth of cities was determined by three large trends: (1) cities with strong human capital bases grew faster than cities without skills, (2) people moved to warmer, drier places, and (3) cities built around the automobile replaced cities that rely on public transportation. In the 1990s (as in the 1980s), more local government spending was associated with slower growth, unless that spending was on highways. We shouldn't be surprised by the lack of change in patterns of urban growth, after all the correlation of city growth rates across decades is generally over 70 percent.