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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

The economic importance of metro regions

Kaid Benfield

Posted July 25, 2011

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  GDP equivalence of US metro regions & world countries (by: Zara Matheson, Martin Prosperity Institute)

Check out this map by Zara Matheson of the Martin Prosperity Institute.  It shows that metropolitan Houston is as important to the world economy as the country of Austria; that metro Chicago's economy is slightly larger than that of Switzerland; that metro New York's GDP is roughly equivalent to that of Switzerland and the Netherlands combined and approaches the size of Canada's.

In other words, among the many reasons why we need our metropolitan regions to be healthy environmentally and socially is that they are of critical economic importance.  If they fail, a huge portion of the world's economy will fail with them.

Money & calculator (by: Images of Money, creative commons license)This comes via another provocative analysis by Richard Florida on his Creative Class blog.  In it he reveals that the New York metro area, if it were its own country, would have the 13th largest economy in the world.  "With a GDP of $737.9 billion, the LA metro’s economy is the equivalent of the 18th largest nation in the world—bigger than Turkey’s ($732.2)."   My home turf here in the DC metro area has the 28th largest economy in the world, larger than Iran's and only slightly smaller than Saudi Arabia's (!).  Do check out Richard's entire post here.

I've written before about the importance of metropolitan areas.  We critically need better management structures for them; to keep managing environmental and social issues at smaller levels of government whose boundaries may have been set a century or more ago is insanity.

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Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

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Peter CrownfieldJul 25 2011 12:14 PM

An interesting map -- but is GDP really a relevant measure of anything useful? Highly destructive activities add to the GDP!

Fenno HoffmanJul 25 2011 01:07 PM

NY's Mayor Bloomberg proposed focusing high speed rail (HSR) spending on the corridor connecting Boston, NY, Philly & DC. This one corridor exceeds all the other listed cities combined! It's already organized around rail, with high density downtowns and lots of connecting transit systems and the downtowns are separated by distances best served by rail, not airplanes or cars. This would maximize return on investment for this first HSR spending. This map helps explain Bloomberg's HSR investment strategy. Thanks.

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