The Siren Song of Scranton

(Project Syndicate)

Since the Industrial Revolution, economic activity has tended to concentrate in a few ever-expanding urban hubs. But now that the COVID-19 crisis has acquainted everyone with the benefits of remote work, many of the factors that have traditionally attracted talent and capital to megacities are suddenly in flux.

Digital platforms, in particular, provide opportunities for remote social and professional interactions. Teleconferencing, virtual collaboration tools, dating apps, and many other innovations have all proven effective in reaping some of the benefits of agglomeration from a distance. The potential, apparent before the pandemic, now is being realized on a massive scale.

Talking Points:

Urban-rural divides exist largely because work that is available in cities is not available outside of them. This simple fact colours political, social, and cultural differences. But COVID-19 – and the disruptions that it has brought to the work lives of many – has swiftly discarded the notion that such differences are inherent to geography. Our report, Loading: the Future of Work, brings up the potential for remote work to both “reverse the rural brain drain” and to relieve urban housing markets of immense pressure. Moving forward, it is worth considering what policies can both support and take advantage of all of the ways in which we might become less urban and more…remote. - Khiran O'Neill | email


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