Local Autonomy

Read in The Economist of 12 March 2016:


This week I had to defend myself at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment at the session on the future of the Dutch system of physical investment programming (MIRT). They asked three collegues to give their view on the new programming, which we did. I said I doubted whether the officially proposed refined approach would be sustainable and referred to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 in the United Kingdom, which devolves housing, transport planning and policing powers to directly-elected mayors. Compared to that, the new Dutch system looks almost Asian-style: seemingly harmonious, authoritarian still, aiming total consensus. Glassy eyes. Devolution? Cities? In the Netherlands? I told them that some cities are becoming more and more important, even in our country, and that the inequality between cities is growing faster than you might think. In such a stringent situation the Dutch system will break one day or fail. That was, to put it mildly, a rather controversial proposition of a suspicious guy from Amsterdam. Is the capital city getting arrogant again?

Next day the London based The Economist published an article on ‘The Great Divergence’. America’s most successful cities are leaving the rest behind. In 2001 the richest 50 cities and their surroundings produced 27% more per head than America as a whole. Today’s richest cities make 34% more. The population of the first is increasing fast, much faster than other cities: 9,2% against 3,1%. The same holds for companies: some are very successful, while others are losing ground. And successful cities attract successful companies. So the fortunes of cities become more polarized. The Economist quoted Tyler Cowen of George Mason University, who in 2013 stated that ambitious and talented workers “would want to work in a relatively small number of cities and regions. These vibrant clusters would then benefit from increasing returns to scale, cementing their advantages.” That is exactly what is happening now. More local autonomy will be unavoidable.






Geef een reactie

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *