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Podcast: A mind of its own – uncovering the psychology of cities

Datum:10 januari 2019

This podcast of City Talks explores whether differences in the personality traits of citizens can explain variations in economic outcomes between cities – beyond the standard wisdom offered by economic geography. Psychology and economics have historically been considered poles apart, but a belief that fresh insights into phenomena like economic growth can lie in the cross-disciplinary intersection between these two fields has brought them closer together.

For this episode of City Talks, Harry Garretsen and Janka Stoker joined presenter Andrew Carter. Garretsen and Stoker are the co-authors of the paper ‘The Relevance of Personality Traits for Urban Economic Growth:  Making Space for Psychological Factors’. This paper, which forms a starting point for the podcast discussion, looks at geographically clustered personality traits, such as neuroticism and conscientiousness, in a sample of UK cities, and maps these characteristics onto the economic performance of these places.

Listen to the podcast here.

The paper by Garretsen and Stoker is joint work with Dimitrios Soudis (University of Groningen) and Ron Martin and Jason Rentfrow (both University of Cambridge), and is forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Geography. This is the abstract of the paper:

Economic growth differences across regions and cities can only be partly explained by standard explanations in economic geography. One reason for this might be the neglect of the psychological make-up of cities and its citizens. To assess the value added of incorporating psychological factors alongside the more standard explanations, this paper tests the relevance of personality traits for economic growth for a sample of UK cities. We argue that neuroticism and conscientiousness, and the traits that make up entrepreneurship culture help to explain urban growth differences. The personality scores of more than 400,000 UK residents are combined with economic data for 63 UK cities from 1981 to 2011. We find that both neuroticism and entrepreneurship culture matter for economic growth. Our main contribution is that geographically clustered personality traits help to understand economic growth differences, and add explanatory power over and above standard determinants, also when the causality issue between personality traits and economic growth is taken into account.

Andrew, Janka and Harry
Andrew, Janka and Harry