In "The Geographical Processes behind Innovation: A Europe-United States Comparative Analysis " Riccardo Crescenzi, Andres Rodriguez-Pose, and Michael Storper look at the question of whether or not the spatial distribution of innovative factors can explain the "innovation gap" between the U.S. and Europe.
Among their findings:
The higher mobility of capital, population, and knowledge in the US not only promotes the agglomeration of research activity in specific areas of the country but also enables a variety of territorial mechanisms to fully exploit local innovative activities and (informational) synergies. In the European Union, in contrast, imperfect market integration, and institutional and cultural barriers across the continent prevent innovative agents from maximising the benefits from external economies and localised interactions, but compensatory forms of geographical process may be emerging in concert with further European integration.
(Full version of their academic working paper is available here.)
So, all these highly mobile Creative workers aren't just moving to find a better music scene and the ultimate tekka maki. It turns out all that mobility helps to cross-pollenate the innovation process -- all the more reason that regional openness, tolerance, and low barriers to entry are important drivers to regional growth and prosperity. (See Florida & Gates, "Technology and Tolerance: The Importance of Diversity to High-Technology Growth" from 2001.)
posted by Kevin Stolarick