Earlier this week, I posted a very long essay on Richard Florida’s wildly popular book The Rise of The Creative Class. I knew that in this age of the Google Alert it was possible that Florida might come across it in his internet travels, but even so I was still a bit shocked on Tuesday when I found a very cordial email in my inbox from the man himself:
I came across your post on my stuff: I’m impressed. You really get me on a variety of different levels, strengths and weaknesses.
After some conversation about our shared musician roots (it seems he used to be a guitarist in his pre-academy days), he sent me the following in response to my criticisms of the data and the methodology presented in the book:
I think we have now done most of the analyses you asked for. With Charlotta Mellander, who I’ve copied, we’ve run various indices, creative class, tolerance etc., etc. against various outcome measures of performance, including income, wages, innovation and more. Charlotta who is an economist can explain all of this in great detail, if you like. Point is these measures do extremely well, and it is our belief that much of the critical work, that is that of it that is based on empirics, misses the mark at least partly because of modelling technique or variables that they include or don’t include. We have done this for the US, Canada and Sweden. There is also the important work of Marlet and Van Woerkens which tests the creative class (the occupationally based measure) against educational human capital and finds the creative class to perform better.
In addition to the Marlet and Van Woerkens article, which is called Skills and Creativity in a Cross-section of Dutch Cities, Mellander was kind enough to send me a 2007 publication entitled Inside the Black Box of Regional Development—Human Capital, the Creative Class and Tolerance that seeks to pull apart the distinctions between creative class and human capital theory and their relative relationships to economic development. I’ll be reviewing both articles over the next week and will write a follow-up post incorporating this new information into my earlier comments. [UPDATE: Here it is.]
In the meantime, Florida’s associates Kevin Stolarick and Ian Swain sent me some links to some other work of interest. First, the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto (which Florida leads) is in the midst of a project on music and the entertainment economy. So far, three working papers have been published: Music Clusters: A Preliminary Analysis, Sonic City: The Evolving Economic Geography of the Music Industry, and That’s Entertainment: Scale and Scope Economies in the Location and Clustering of the Creative Economy. Second, it seems that Toronto is embarking on a cultural asset mapping project of its own, called Placing Creativity. So far, the website only has info on a pretty awesome-looking conference on cultural mapping taking place next month, but it will be interesting to see what comes out of this collaborative effort.