Le village urbain

CAMBRIDGE – « Je veux en être – New York, New York, » chantait Frank Sinatra à propos de cette ville qui a attiré tant d’ambitieux du monde entier, artistes, acteurs, chanteurs, hommes d’affaire, et banquiers. Dans un sens, le phénomène s’explique aisément ; les métropoles comme la ville de New York, avec leur population multiculturelle, leurs entreprises multinationales, et la multitude des talents individuels qui les peuple, sont un creuset d’opportunités. Mais l’impact des grandes villes dépasse largement le pouvoir économique ou même culturel ; les villes peuvent fondamentalement changer la vie des gens – et même les gens eux-mêmes.

En 2010, Geoffrey West et une équipe de chercheurs ont découvert que plusieurs mesures socio-économiques – tant positives que négatives – augmentaient au même rythme que la population locale. En d’autres termes, plus la ville est grande, plus le salaire moyen, les niveaux de productivité, le nombre de brevets par habitant, le taux de criminalité, la prévalence de l’anxiété ou l’incidence du VIH augmentent.

En fait, lorsqu’une ville double de volume, l’ensemble des mesures de l’activité économique augmente de 15% par habitant. Ce qui explique pourquoi les gens rejoignent les villes ; et ce qui explique aussi leur dynamisme.

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