Creative Class Theory and Economic Performance in UK Cities

Creative Class Theory and Economic Performance in UK Cities

Max Nathan (Centre for Cities, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-838-3.ch005
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Richard Florida’s ‘creative class’ theory suggests that diverse, tolerant, ‘cool’ cities will outperform others. Ethnic minorities, gay people, and counter-culturalists attract high-skilled professionals: the presence of this ‘creative class’ ensures cities get the best jobs and most dynamic companies. This chapter examines Florida’s ideas, focusing on the evidence in British cities. Drawing on previously published work, it first tests the Florida model on a set of British cities, finding weak support for the creative class hypothesis. It then examines this hypothesis in detail. It finds little evidence of a creative class, and little evidence that ‘creative’ cities do better. The chapter concludes that the creative class model is a poor predictor of UK city performance. There is other, stronger evidence that diversity, creativity, talent, and ‘quality of place’ are linked to urban economic growth. Further research is required before either can be fully integrated into policy.

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