Aside from a rather bleak outlook for overall development, the interesting thing about this research is how it was gathered. Because the researchers used census data, it comes from how people self-identify, and so really reflects how we move. Have we chosen to gather around the juggernauts of tech and money, and can cities still provide?
MIT’s David Autor gave the Richard T. Ely lecture at the annual meeting of American economists at the beginning of the year. Here, he breaks down his and Anna Salomons of Utrecht University’s theories on the future of work in cities.
They used census data on occupations to track what people have self-identified as doing for work over the decades. As a result, they have identified what they believe are three categories of work for the future.
Essentially, increasing technology and money has fed the jobs that facilitate this – and fill in the gaps machines haven’t yet reached.
Above all, is what this research means for personal economic development. The hard divisions between the categories are only likely to widen within the hierarchy. For the first time, we might have to face up to the idea that cities aren’t the land of opportunity where anyone can make it.