Geographic patterns of the creative class for megapolitan and non-megapolitan counties of the contiguous United States: key predictors and clusters

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Brian McCarthy (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Keith Debbage

Abstract: Workers in creative occupations play increasingly important roles in the economic development of the United States. Creative workers are members of the creative class and two different measures were studied. The first measure included all creative occupations originally identified in Richard Florida's creative class theory: technology, arts, professional, and education and medical occupations. The second measure of the creative class excluded educational and medical occupations due to their inverse relationship with economic development. The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze the geographical patterns of the two measures of creative class for all 3,109 counties within the 48 contiguous states to better understand the spatial variation of the creative class for the 654 counties in megapolitan areas and the 2,455 non-megapolitan counties. Megapolitan areas are very large urban regions with high levels of interconnectedness among the counties. Megapolitan counties generated over 71 percent of the gross domestic product in the United States in 2010. Results show counties that act as bedroom communities or "edge cities" generally have a disproportionately higher share of both creative class measures than counties with principal cities. Getis-ord Gi cluster analysis identified "hot-spot" and "cold-spot" clusters for both measures of the creative class. Cluster analysis identified hot-spot clusters on the Northeast seaboard, Sierra Pacific around San Francisco and San Jose, and the Great Plains. The creative-class hot-spot cluster in the Great Plains suggests that the creative economy is more than just a megapolitan phenomenon. A creative-class cold-spot cluster extended from Appalachia into the Southeastern counties. Additionally, stepwise regression analysis conducted for the two creative-class measures and 18 independent variables identified which socio-economic variables best explained the spatial distribution of the creative class for both the megapolitan and non-megapolitan counties. Regression analysis results indicated a positive relationship existed between the percentage of the workforce with a bachelor's degree and both measures of the creative class for the megapolitan and non-megapolitan counties alike. Average wages also had a positive relationship with the creative class in the megapolitan counties. Gross rent as a percentage of income was inversely related to the geography of the creative class for the non-megapolitan counties. The primary findings suggested that Florida's creative capital theory is mutually supportive of other economic development theories such as human-capital theory and Kotkin's resurgent heartland concept. Analysis of the spatial distribution of the creative class is an important first step to better understanding the creative economy of the United States.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
County, Creative Capital Theory, Human Capital Theory, Megalopolis, Resurgent Heartland, Richard Florida
Creative ability $x Social aspects
Human geography $z United States
Economic geography $z United States

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