modern city
C H A P T E R 1 1 Prosperity, Equality, and Happiness IN 1930, JO HN MAYNARD KEYNES, on e of the gre atest e conomists o f the twentieth cen tur y, wrote an ex traordinary a rticl e, ” Ec onomic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” i n which he ruminated o n wh at the nat ure o f t he ec on omy a nd the qu ality of people’s live s woul d be o ne hundred years in the future. The y ear 2030 is not so far away an y­ m ore, so w e can beg in to s ee some of its outlines. In l ight of what h as a lready occurred, some of what Ke ynes pr edicted appe ars r emarkably prescient, but h e also fa iled t o see m uch of what ca me to pass as the tw entieth c entury unfol ded. K eynes was born in 1883 i n Cambrid ge, England. He grew up st eepe d in an env ironment o f a cad emic ri gor, moral p hilos ophy, a nd s ocial activism. His fat her t aught ec onomics a t Cambr idge University at a time when e conomics was considered part of a larger syst em of morality going back to t he earliest t hinkers a nd writers, including Greec e’s Aris tot le, Ind ia’s Chanakya, and Chin a’s Qi n Sh i Huang. Ke ynes’s mother, Florence, was a social ac tivist. A fte r h is g raduation fr om Cambridge in 1904 wi th a.. degree in m athematics, K eynes’s p ath t ook him t hrough the civ il se rvice a nd aca demia. B y t he time h e w rote ”Economic Possibilities for Our Gr an dchild ren” h e h ad b een th inking abo ut the social implications of macroeconomic systems for some ti me. The ar tic le, wr itte n at the b egin ning of t he Great Depres­sion, begin s: ” We are suffering just no w from a b a d attack of eco no mic pessi­ mism. It is common to he ar peo ple say that the epoch of e normous 346 THE WELL-TEMPERED CITY But there is a deeper reason. Happiness is tied to what Deaton calls emotionally enriching social experiences. Dr. Kahneman says, “The very best thing that can happen to people is to spend time with other people they like. That is when they are happiest.”8 The way we spend our time is also a critical component of our sense of well-being. In another study Kahneman and his colleagues tracked how people experience their day by asking them to record events in fifteen-minute intervals and evaluate them. Walking, making love, exercise, playing, and reading ranked as their most pleasurable activities. Their least happy activities? Work, commuting, child care, and personal com­ puter time. How many people really enjoy a night of plowing through endless e-mails?9 This survey should not mislead us about the value of work. Work can be deeply gratifying and meaningful, and it can also provide rich social relations. Employment is a key element of well-being. People who are unemployed or underemployed are statistically more likely to die younger and be in worse health. People who lose their job in middle age and have difficulty finding a new one are more likely to – become depressed, and have a two to three times higher risk of heart attack and stroke over the next ten years. IO So one of the key cha!� lenges of cities in the twenty-first century is to develop economies that generate stimulating, productive work for all of their residents. In the past we often held the same job for life, whether as a shep­ herd, a member of a medieval guild, or an employee of a large corpo­ ration. Today the average millennial will have had eleven jobs by the time he or she reaches the age of forty . This underscores the need to acquire many different skills beyond technical ability. Satisfying work often requires not only a high level of education, but the emotional and social intelligence required to work successfully in teams. This wider range of qualifications will be essential in a world where com­ puter coding may become the entry-level position that a factory job once was. As agriculture becomes more and more industrialized, rural PROSPERITY, EQUALITY, AND HAPPINESS ·347 people are flocking to cities seeking work. Yet with robots increasingly taking line positions in our factories, there are likely to be fewer jobs for the uneducated in the future. So what is the future of work in our cities? Keynes predicted that automation would lead to more leisure, but achieving that requires a wider distribution of economic benefits than our economy is designed for. Instead of Keynes’s vision, we are faced with fewer opportunities not only for the uneducated, but also for those who are educated but poorly adapted to the rapidly changing conditions of work. Unem­ ployed and underemployed people tend not to be happy, so this is an issue we need to approach with a thoughtful plan, or it will tear the guts out of our social contract. In 2005, when Gallup began polling selected residents of almost every country in the world to gauge their state of well-being, respon­ dents were asked about their employment status, trust in government, confidence in the quality of public education, food security, and a variety of other questions. They were also asked to describe their lives as thriving, struggling, or suffering. It turned out that the answer to that question is a key indicator of the social stability of a society. In the period from 2005 to 2010 the GDP of Tu nisia rose by an impressive 26.1 percent ll and in E gy pt it rose by a remarkable 53.4 percent.12 But Gallup polls showed something else as well. In 2005, 25 percent of Tu nisians said they were thriving, but by 2010, despite the big jump in GDP, the proportion of Tu nisians who said that they were thriving had declined to 14 percent. The numbers were even worse for Egypt. In 2005, 26 percent of Egy ptians described themselves as thriv­ ing, but by 2010 that percentage had dropped by more than half, to 12 percent.13 A key reason for the declines was that growth was accom­ panied by an enormous amount of corruption, so its benefits were not fairly distributed. For example, a recent study showed that in Tu nisia 22 percent of all corporate profits during that period went to companies owned by relatives of the country’s president. So perhaps we should not 348 THE WELL-TEMP ERED CITY have been so surprised when mass protests took place in these countries in the fall and winter of 2011-2012. Sidi Bouzid is a central Tunisian city of just 39,000 people some 160 miles south of Tunis, the capital of this small North African nation. The World Economic Forum ranks Tunisia as Africa’.s most economically competitive nation, ahead of Europe’s Portugal and Greece. Tunisia’s economy is based on its role as a bridge between the European Union and the Arab states of North Africa. Unfortu nately, little of the Mediterranean trade that benefits the country’s port cities reaches the inland residents of Sidi Bouzid. This geographic disad­ vantage has led to a 41 percent unemployment rate in the city, and the highest poverty rate in the country-almost double the national average. To make matters worse, Sidi Bouzid is plagued by corruption that saps its hardworking small-business owners and entrepreneurs. Sidi Bouzid was an unlikely candidate for global attention, but on December 17, 2010, an event took place there that shook the world: Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. Twenty-six years old, Mohamed had been working hard selling vegetables in the local market to support his mothe r, uncle, and sib­ lings, and to pay for the university tuition of one of his sisters. Each d ay Mohamed would pull his cart through the city’s streets to the market and back, laden with wares. His dream was to save enough money to buy a small pickup truck that would allow him to expand into food distribution, the next step up the income ladder. On December 17, Mohamed borrowed $200 from a moneylender and purchased a cartload of fruits and vegetables. A policewoman, seek­ ing a bribe, confiscated his unlicensed cart, scales, and wares, and fined him · ten dinars. As Rania Abouzeid later reported in Time, “It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it would be the last. Not satisfied with accepting the IO-dinar fine that Bouazizi tried to pay ($7, the equivalent of a good day’s earnings), the policewoman allegedly slapped the scrawny young man, spat in his face, and insulted his dead father. PROSPERITY, EQUALITY, AND HAPPINESS ·349 Humiliated and dejected, Bouazizi went to the provincial headquarters, hoping to complain to local municipality officials, but they refused to see him. At 11 :30 a.m., less than an hour after the confrontation with the policewoman and without telling his family, Bouazizi returned to the elegant double-story white building with arched azure shutters, poured fuel over himself and set himself on fire.”14 Mohamed Bouazizi’s act set the country ablaze with demonstrations by young people, frustrated at the oppression of the police, their own lack of opportunity to advance, corruption, and the widening gap between rich and poor. Twenty-eight days later, in January 2011, Tunisia’s president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, resigned. A few weeks later the flame lit in Tu­ nisia had spread to the most populous country in the Arab world: E gy pt. On January 25, 2011, a small crowd gathered outside the Hay­ iss Sweet Shop in Boulaq, one of the informal settlements that had grown on the periphery of Cairo in the 1970s. Egyptians called these communities ashwaiy yat, or haphazard places. The first squatters to move to Boulaq came to work at a nearby Coca-Cola bottling plant, a cigarette factory, and the Upper Egypt railroad. By the 1990s the slum had developed into a dense, thriving community with five-story brick buildings, shops, and small factories.15 Like the banlieues of Paris and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Boulaq is not far from wealth­ ier neighborhoods, but is cut off from the rest of the city, in this case by three railway lines, the al-Zumor canal, and a high fence. Only two pedestrian bridges and bus stops connect the community to the rest of the city. The only government presence comes in the form of the occasional visit by police who harass Boulaq’s residents. During the later 1990s and early 2000s Egypt was overwhelmed by the same megatrends that affected much of the rest of the world­ explosive population growth, rapid urbanization, and, in the Middle East, increased violence. For decades the government had lived off income from oil and gas, fees from the Suez Canal, and foreign aid from the Soviet Union and the United States, which were competing 360 THE WELL-TEMPERED CITY anyway. Technically nonresidents, they have no access to public health, education, and social welfare systems, or to the city’s housing system. As a result they crowd into dormitories and basements, and suble t apart­ ments. Since their children cannot attend school, parents must leave their children behind in small, isolated villages. Their houku-less par­ ents work long hours to earn enough money to send home to grandpar­ ents raising their children. A recent Economist report estimates that in 2010, the lives of 106 million children were profoundly disrupted, most of them “left behind children” as the Chinese call them. Tong Xiao, director of the China Institute of Children and Adolescents, notes that the emotional and social damage “on left behind children is huge . ” 2 8 The full economic consequences of urban workers’ salaries subsidizing their parents and children in a declining rural system, because they are not supported by educa tional, health, and social services in the emerg­ ing urban one, have not been addressed. This is not just an issue for China, as almost every nation faces it. The cross-subsidy between ur­ ban and rural families has long been a driver of migration, but in the twenty-first century, is this the best way to achieve it? As we saw from the work of Robert Sampson, the neighbor­ hood effect is extr emely potent. Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, researchers at Harvard University, looked at data from millions of families to study the effects of moving a poor family to a different neighbor hood. Their information came from “Moving to Opportu� nity,” a twenty-year-old federal housing program that provided low­ income families with a housing voucher to pay the difference between the rent they could afford and market rent in the neighbor hood where they wished to move. More than 5 million families received these vouchers, and each family was then encouraged to relocate. Some moved to middle-income neighborhoods, while others remained in low-income communities . Chetty and Hendren discovered that the odds of a poor child escaping poverty as an adult were deeply depenr dent on the choice the parents made as to where to raise their family, PROSPERITY, EQUALITY; AND HAPPINESS · 361 and the age of the child when they made the decision. For example, a poor child born in Baltimore who stayed there earned 25 percent less money as an adult than a poor child born in Baltimore who subse­ quently moved to a more mixed-income community. Those cities most conducive to upward mobility share several traits: elementary schools with higher test scores, a higher share of two-p arent families, greater levels of involvement in civic and reli­ gious groups, and more residential integration of affluent, middle­ class, and poor families. And the younger children were when they inoved, the better they did econ omically as adults, the less likely they were to become single parents, and the more likely they were to go to college. These characteristics begin to point to where cities can make investments to create communities of opport unity. Interestingly, communities that provided more opportunity for poor children also helped wealthier children do better. For example; if a child whose parents were in the bottom 25 percent of income earners in Manhattan moved to Bergen County, New Jersey, just on the other side of the George Washington Bridge from New York City, by the time that child reached the age of twenty-six, she was likely to earn 14 per­ cent more than the national average earned by children of poor fami­ lies. Yet for children whose families were upper middle class, earning in the 75th percentile, those who lived in Bergen County also had a better future, earning 7 percent more than the average child in their income cohort. Even children who grew up in the top 1 percent of all income­ earning families in the nation did better by the age of twenty-six if they lived in mixed-income Bergen County. So place matters. 2 9 There Are Man y Kinds of Ine qualit y Income disparity and lack of access to infrastructure are not the only forms of pervasive inequality that affect the well-being of city 372 THE WELL-TEMPERED CITY program also widely distributes opportunity. Like most develo ping� world cities, Curitiba is surrounded by poorly serviced slums, and it’s aiming business incubation efforts at growing small businesses in these communities. Entrepreneurial sheds located in low-income communities are supported by the Crafts Lycee, which provides fi­ nance and business education. As a result of these efforts, Curitiba is not the richest city in the world, but it is a contender for the happiest. Ninety-nine percent of its residents reported being happy in 2009, and in 2010 it was awarded the Globe Sustainable City Award. Mayor Lerner says, “I believe that some medicinal ‘magic’ can and should be applied to cities, as many are sick and some nearly terminal. As with the medicine needed in the interaction between doctor and patient, in urban planning it is also neces sary to make the city react; to poke an area in such a way that it is able to help heal, improve, and create positive chain reactions. It is indispensable in revita lizing interventions to make the organism work in a different way.”41 Curitiba’s magic came from the belief that “we” must thrive if “me” is to thrive. Jaime Lerner understood the fundamental truth that happiness and well-being are a collective ex.,­ perience. And they make for a better city. Toward the Purpose of Cities Our current economic system is based on flawed premises: that mar­ kets are efficient, and that efficiency, in itself, will produce the best socie ty. Efficiency is an important function in complicated, linear systems, but it is less so in complex systems. Alas, in the latter half of the twentieth century, economists made efficiency itself our most important value, lauding creative destruction and the rule of the mar­ ket. The efficient market exacerbates inequality. It knows what Oscar Wilde called the price of everything and the value of nothing. Wyn- PROSPERITY, EQUALITY, AND HAPPINESS ·373 ton Mar.salis said, “The reason things fall apart is that people create things to celebrate themselves rather than embrace the whole.” But human societies and our cities are complex systems, not com­ . plicated ones. And complex systems have both a function and a pur­ pose. The purpose of our cities and societies is well-being, not effi­ ciency. Complicated systems can be maximized. Complex systems thrive when they are optimized. A city is optimized when all of its compo­ nents are thriving-the ecology in which it is nested, the metabolism that sustains it, the region that contains it,. and its peop le and busi­ nesses. To achieve this, city leaders need to focus on optimizing the whole, not the parts. Thriving in the twenty-first century requires a cultural shift from an individual-maximizing worldview to an ecological one, recogniz­ ing that �ur well-being derives from the health of the system, not the node. This new cognition is enhanced as a city defines its purpose as the well-being of its wholeness. Then the system will naturally want to equalize its landscape of oppo rtunity and the distribution of health and well-being. Seeking wholeness, the city begins to become more naturally adaptive to the VUCA world. Funding the Well-Tempered City Many nations have the financial capacity to make their cities more . well tempered. With the federal thirty-year bond interest rate at 2.62 percent in the spring of 2016, the United States could divide its budget into a capital and an ope rating budget, and borrow , not to cover its deficit, but to invest in new schools; roads and mass transit; smart, renewable energy systems; circular water and wastewater sys­ tems; smart city operating systems; affordable housing; community health centers; parks and open spaces; and the other components of

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