Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation

Edward Glaeser and David Cutler. Penguin Press, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-0-593-29768-1
Cities are weakened when they privilege “insiders” (older property owners, large corporations, police and teachers’ unions) over “outsiders” (younger renters, immigrants, aspiring entrepreneurs), according to this ambitious and timely study of issues facing urban communities. Harvard economists Glaeser (Triumph of the City) and Cutler (The Quality Cure) first tackle public health crises, examining the effectiveness of quarantines and the role that sanitation infrastructure such as aqueducts and sewers have played in making cities healthier. (They argue that wealthy nations should fund similar projects in poorer countries in order to help prevent the next pandemic.) In the book’s second half, they address a wide range of social issues contributing to urban tensions and make policy suggestions, such as streamlining the permitting process for new businesses in order to speed economic recoveries, changing zoning laws to allow more high-density housing, and offering higher salaries to police officers who can develop programs to reduce crime while protecting civil rights. Though the authors’ tendency to make sweeping generalizations about the role cities have historically played in turning “poor children into richer adults” grates, their central arguments are sound. This is a valuable resource on how to make America’s cities better. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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