La aldea urbana

CAMBRIDGE – “Quiero formar parte de ella – Nueva York, Nueva York”, cantaba Frank Sinatra refiriéndose a la ciudad que ha atraído a tantas de las personas más ambiciosas del mundo, desde artistas e intérpretes hasta empresarios y banqueros. En cierto sentido, no es un fenómeno difícil de explicar; metrópolis como la ciudad de Nueva York, con sus poblaciones multiculturales, empresas multinacionales y multitud de personas con talento, rebosan de oportunidades, pero el efecto de las ciudades grandes es más profundo que el económico o incluso el cultural; las ciudades pueden cambiar de forma fundamental la vida de las personas... e incluso a ellas mismas.

En 2010, Geoffrey West, junto con un equipo de investigadores, descubrió que varias medidas socioeconómicas –positivas y negativas– aumentan con el tamaño de la población local. Dicho de otro modo, cuanto mayor es la ciudad, mayor es el salario medio, el nivel de productividad, el número de patentes por persona, la tasa de delincuencia, la prevalencía de la ansiedad y la incidencia del VIH.

En realidad, cuando se duplica el tamaño de una ciudad, todos los grados de actividad económica aumentan en un 15 por ciento por persona. Ésa es la razón por la que las personas se trasladan a una gran ciudad; de hecho, ésa es la razón por la que las ciudades prosperan.

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