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Economist Profile: Ed Glaeser

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Last updated 21 Mar 2021

Ed Glaeser is Professor of Economics at Harvard University and one of the world’s finest experts on the economics of cities. One of his most cited books is Triumph of the City published in 2011, an optimistic look at why some cities thrive and grow whilst others suffer long term decline.

Ideas from Economists: Ed Glaeser

A key idea is that of the Urban Triad

  • Cities are physical entities like streets, buildings, and subways
  • Second force is the public sector, which defines the borders of the city and has the responsibility for providing clean water and public safety
  • Third is the magic of human interaction - the real heart of the city is its people

When designed, built and managed well, cities are greener, happier, safer and more innovative than anything human kind has ever developed


  • Crime and murder turn many neighbourhoods into places of terror rather than opportunity
  • Limited transport options can turn daily commutes in megacities into arduous treks.
  • Shantytowns are a regular sight in many of the world’s burgeoning cities.

There are no easy solutions.

Smart urban design is crucial and so too building cities with a diverse population to drive innovation

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