An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Paul Romer on Urban Growth

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Paul Romer on Urban Growth and consider these questions.

1. Romer urges drawing a distinction between “reform zones” and “concession zones.” What’s the difference between the two, and why does Romer insist on the distinction?

2. What general principles about charter cities are illustrated by the city of Shenzhen, China? How might these principles be applied to existing (failing) cities, such as Detroit?

3. Why does Romer advocate a “tearing down” approach (e.g., tearing down Long Beach to build another Manhattan)? To what extent would you agree with this approach?

4. In discussing charter city efforts in poorer countries, such as Honduras, Romer insists that the probability of success is not the right metric for judging such efforts. Why does he say this, and what does he think is the right metric?

5. What are the differences between private cities and charter cities?

6. Should we be more focused on getting people out of subsistence settings, or on making improvements to cities so people can move there, according to Roberts and Romer? What do you think? Explain.

7. What would Romer replace Jeffrey Sachs’ “Millennium Development Goals” with? Is Romer’s objective a better one? Why or why not?

8. What two contributions does Romer suggest the intellectual can make to discussions about urban growth? To what extent are these legitimate?