Functional Creative Economies:The Spatial Distribution of Creative Workers
Kevin M Stolarick, Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School, U of Toronto
Although cities face a myriad of challenges, they seem to be mitigated by the economic and agglomeration benefits that accrue to cities. Among these benefits is that high human capital and “creative class” individuals disproportionately aggregate in cities. In fact, the share of the workforce that is highly-skilled increases with city size and not just the number of highly-skilled workers. This creates tremendous complications for smaller cities and rural areas that not only suffer “brain drain” but also have to address the economic, productivity, and prosperity challenges that result from having a lower share of the workforce in those occupations that generate those benefits. A possible source of remediation that has been offered is proximity to major agglomerations and metropolitan areas. Small cities and rural regions may be spatially advantaged by their proximity. Using detailed demographic and geographic data for Ontario from Statistics Canada, this paper investigates the relationship between population, density, proximity, and the share of the workforce in the creative class for all Ontario Census subdivisions (CSD). Population and density are always important factors for the local creative class. A linear spatial model revealed no significant relationship while a gravity model shows a minor but significant relationship. In general, only close proximity or a very large creative population is positively related to a larger creative class in small cities and rural areas. The results suggest that functional creative economies should be characterized by fairly limited spatial distances when considered on a provincial scale.
Keywords: human capital, creative class, agglomeration benefits, brain drain, linear spatial model