The Silicon Valley consensus is that innovative cities grow faster than non-innovative ones: it’s an idea that has motivated billions of dollars in new economic development investments. However, there’s only scant evidence that cities can become the next Silicon Valley—or that becoming the next Silicon Valley would even be desirable. The consensus has suggested that struggling cities should look west if they wish to rise. It would be more promising for cities to look in all directions—and perhaps in the mirror—for lessons on how to grow.
This book proposes a new way to approach comparative international development by focusing on time and timing in economic and social development. The UK industrialized over two centuries, and then started to de-industrialize in the late 1960s. Today, the most rapid developers experience aspects of industrialization and de-industrialization simultaneously. It is no longer clear that industrialization offers the path of growth it once did; industrialization has become ‘thin.’ Demographic and social challenges that earlier developers faced sequentially now come at the same time. Rapid growers experience compression most acutely, but the spatial and temporal fusing of past and present is widespread, affecting high-, middle-, and lower-income countries alike.