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Why do some places prosper while others lag behind? Surely the advent of the Internet and ever newer communications technologies will level the playing field. Not so, argues Mario Polese in "The Wealth and Poverty of Regions"; rather, geography will matter more than ever before in a world where distance is allegedly dead. This provocative book surveys the globe, from London and Cape Town to New York and Beijing, contending that regions rise - or fall - due to their location, not only within nations but also on the world map. Polese reveals how initial concentrations of industries and populations in specific locales often result in minor advantages that accumulate over time, resulting in reduced costs, improved transportation networks, higher productivity, and, not least of all, "buzz" - the excitement and vitality that attracts ambitious people. However, these are attributes that can also be lost. Even big cities can falter. And small places can succeed, given the right conditions.
"The Wealth and Poverty of Regions" maps out how a heady mix of size, proximity, technological change, and just plain chance will determine which places become the thriving metropolises of the future, and which become the deserted backwaters of the past. Engagingly written, the book provides insight into the past, present, and future of regions.
Mario Polese holds the Senior Canada Research Chair in Urban and Regional Studies and is professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Montreal. He is coauthor of, most recently, Connecting Cities with Macroeconomic Concerns.