...my favorite commentary on Florida's thesis is the 2005 book review in RSUE
by Ed Glaeser.
Glaeser finds the book "dead on" in almost every respect but ends "up with doubts about his prescriptions for urban planning. Florida makes the reasonable argument that as cities hinge on creative people, they need to attract creative people. So far, so good. Then he argues that this means attracting bohemian types who like funky, socially free areas with cool downtowns and lots of density. Wait a minute. Where does that come from?"
The source of Florida's policy prescriptions seems to be his attempt to argue that there is a difference between his “creative capital” view and the mainstream urban view that human capital generates growth. As mentioned above, I have always argued that skilled cities grow because “the presence of skills in the metropolitan area may increase new idea production and the growth rate of city-specific productivity levels,” but if Florida wants to argue that there is an effect of bohemian, creative types, over and above the effect of human capital, then presumably that should show up in the data.
He then gets Florida's data and runs some regressions:
In fact, a closer look at the data tells us that the Bohemianism effect is driven entirely by two metropolitan areas: Las Vegas, Nevada and Sarasota, Florida.... Excluding those two cities means that the college variable becomes quite significant, and bohemianism becomes irrelevant. Given that I will never believe that either Las Vegas or Sarasota stand as stellar examples of Bohemianism, I will draw another conclusion from these regressions: skilled people are the key to urban success. Sure, creativity matters. The people who have emphasized the connection between human capital and growth always argued that this effect reflected the importance of idea transmission in urban areas. But there is no evidence to suggest that there is anything to this diversity or Bohemianism, once you control for human capital. As such, mayors are better served by focusing on the basic commodities desired by those with skills, than by thinking that there is a quick fix involved in creating a funky, hip, Bohemian downtown.
This is quite interesting - apparently Sarasota data indicates a correlation between "bohemianism" and creativity. Is this a New College or RSAD effect? Hard to say, but I haven't seen much evidence of "bohemianism" around town. And how can Sarasota and Las Vegas together show this correlation? Apparently we will need some creative thinking to address this.