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Cityscape: Volume 15 Number 1 | Article 2


Climate Change and City Hall

Volume 15 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Local Sustainability Policies and Programs As Economic Development: Is the New Economic Development Sustainable Development?

Kent E. Portney, Tufts University


Common wisdom suggests that local efforts to protect or improve the biophysical environment will inevitably undermine efforts to engage in economic development. Using research on the effects of smart growth and the Environmental Kuznets Curve as the foundation, this article examines the empirical relationship between cities’ pursuit of sustainability and their economic growth. Results suggest that cities that take sustainability policies and programs the most seriously, particularly if they have relatively large “creative class” populations, tend to be the cities that have experienced the greatest growth in personal incomes since 1990. Cities that have done the least to pursue sustainability tend to have experienced the least growth in personal incomes, which is taken as evidence that a new model of local economic growth may well be emerging—a model that emphasizes quality of life as a driver of economic development.

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