Urbanization Speeds Advancement


A crew of physicists and economists led by Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute recently examined cities in a new way. They discovered that, as cities grow larger, they generate ideas more quickly.

After measuring the copyrights, patents, inventions and book production rates of numerous cities of various sizes, they concluded that a metropolis that is 10 times larger than its neighboring city does not have 10 times more patents, inventions, and books, but 17 times more. And a city 50 times bigger is around 130 times more creative and innovative.

So, despite noise, crowding, distraction and squalor, the average resident of a metropolis of 5 million people is almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town that is home to 100,000 souls.

The growth of villages into towns, towns to cities, and cities into bustling metropolises has been central to mankind’s technological advancement.