Sunday, November 08, 2009

Still dull and boring

Richard Florida has had some success helping urban economics and urban geography (and related fields) shed their dull and boring images. Researchers now try to identify the places that the young, cool, hip, creative types prefer. But every so often, Joel Kotkin comes along to show us that it's not all that simple.

But even though the research is potentially trendier than ever, the researchers are still trying to pin labels on areas (counties or metro areas) that are much too big to be so easily characterized. Metro area average population density, for example, can be misleading. In previous blogs, I have noted that I am late-to-the-party in discovering the smaller PUMAs (Public Use Micro Sample Areas).

It's easy to take a leaf out of the playbook of the Creative Class researchers and study the link between "hip" in-migrants and PUMA population density. Occupation code 2600 is “Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations”. Correlate arrivals of these people with small area (metro PUMAs) population density and do it for the nine Census Divisions. The results are all over the map (sorry!). They range from 0.06 (Mountain States) to 0.41 (Mid-Atlantic). In five of the Divisons, the correlation between all arrivals and PUMA population density is higher than for creative arrivals.

Our field is probably stuck with dull and boring.