El síndrome de Detroit

SINGAPUR – Cuando la ciudad de Detroit se declaró en quiebra la semana pasada, ésta fue la mayor de la historia de los Estados Unidos. La población de Detroit se había reducido de 1,8 millones en 1950, cuando era la quinta ciudad de los Estados Unidos en población, a menos de 700.000 en la actualidad. Su base industrial está destrozada.

Y, sin embargo, vivimos en un mundo en el que las ciudades nunca han estado mejor. Más de la mitad de la población mundial es urbana por primera vez en la Historia y a los centros urbanos corresponde el 80 por ciento, más o menos, del PIB mundial. Esas proporciones aumentarán aún más cuando los países con mercados en ascenso se urbanicen rápidamente. Así, pues, ¿qué puede aprender el mundo de la difícil situación de Detroit?

En época tan reciente como el decenio de 1990, muchos expertos afirmaban que la tecnología volvería irrelevantes las ciudades. Se creía que la red Internet y las comunicaciones portátiles, tecnologías entonces incipientes, dejarían de obligar a las personas a vivir en centros urbanos atestados y caros. En cambio, ciudades como Nueva York y Londres han experimentado grandes aumentos de población desde 1990, después de decenios de decadencia.

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