March 24, 2022

Big Cities Are Past Their Prime

New York. Los Angeles. Boston. San Francisco. Call them America's "superstars." With mega populations, these urban hubs have long reigned as the nation's economic, social, and cultural capitals. But big cities have also been the hardest hit by the pandemic. "Zoom towns" are springing up across the country as professionals leave the city in droves. Even more, the pandemic has brought economic and social inequality into sharp focus for the nation's lawmakers. And some, particularly in large cities that boast the most obvious cases of such inequality, are enacting new progressive policies and laws that seek to combat inequality. For some, this means a new financial structure that makes city life less compelling for those in higher income brackets. Will megacities keep their magnetism in the wake of Covid-19? Or are their best days behind them?

Main Points

For The Motion
  • Cities are less central to business and social life. New technologies, coupled with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, highlight the ease with which commerce, relationships, education, and work can thrive outside major metropolitan areas.
  • Middle-class families are being priced out, with diminished opportunity for livable wages and homeownership. This drains the proverbial lifeblood that once made cities magnets for culture and industry.
  • The role of cities is changing from central, high-density hubs that attract individuals for economic and cultural reasons to centers that are briefly necessary for some individuals to make connections and jumpstart their careers.
Against The Motion
  • Cities ebb and flow. But taking the long view, they have been vital to human civilization and will remain so. Pandemics, wars, and natural disasters have occurred throughout human history, and cities have always existed because they continue to provide a necessary forum for human gathering.
  • Despite technological advances, cities promote innovation, ideas, and a level of production this largely unachievable elsewhere.
  • While cities have been written off in the past, they nonetheless persist, in part due to the fact that humans are simply happier living together. Cities are a source of joy and integral to the human experience.

Pre-Debate

Against the Motion
47 %
Undecided
14 %
For the Motion
39 %

Post-Debate

WINNER

Against the Motion
65 %
Undecided
8 %
For the Motion
27 %

Breakdown

Against the Motion
45% - Remained on the Against Side
12% - Swung from the For Side
8% - Swung from Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung from the Against Side
4% - Remained Undecided
4% - Swung from the For Side
For the Motion
2% - Swung from the Against Side
22% - Remained on the For Side
2% - Swung from Undecided
CLIPS BLOCK
ABOUT THE DEBATERS
For The Motion
Jennifer Hernandez
Jennifer Hernandez - Attorney & Environmental Advocate
Jennifer Hernandez is a Stanford-trained attorney and environmental advocate who has received numero... read bio
Joel Kotkin
Joel Kotkin - Scholar & Author, "The Coming Neo-Feudalism"
Joel Kotkin is an internationally recognized authority on global, economic, political, and social tr... read bio
Against The Motion
Margaret O'Mara
Margaret O'Mara - Historian & Professor
Margaret O'Mara is a historian of modern America who writes and teaches about the history of the tec... read bio
Ed Glaeser
Ed Glaeser - Economist & Author, "Survival of the City "
Edward Glaeser is an American economist and professor at Harvard University where he taught microeco... read bio

Main Points

  • Cities are less central to business and social life. New technologies, coupled with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, highlight the ease with which commerce, relationships, education, and work can thrive outside major metropolitan areas.
  • Middle-class families are being priced out, with diminished opportunity for livable wages and homeownership. This drains the proverbial lifeblood that once made cities magnets for culture and industry.
  • The role of cities is changing from central, high-density hubs that attract individuals for economic and cultural reasons to centers that are briefly necessary for some individuals to make connections and jumpstart their careers.
  • Cities ebb and flow. But taking the long view, they have been vital to human civilization and will remain so. Pandemics, wars, and natural disasters have occurred throughout human history, and cities have always existed because they continue to provide a necessary forum for human gathering.
  • Despite technological advances, cities promote innovation, ideas, and a level of production this largely unachievable elsewhere.
  • While cities have been written off in the past, they nonetheless persist, in part due to the fact that humans are simply happier living together. Cities are a source of joy and integral to the human experience.