Spontaneous Growth

by Jane S. Shaw

During this holiday season, the Pope Center is publishing a short series of articles that question the politically popular assumption that any spending on universities leads to economic growth.

Jay Schalin has examined three iconic high-tech complexes to better understand the role of universities (and government spending). On Monday, we published his article about Silicon Valley; today’s is about Massachusetts’ Route 128 Corridor; and the essay on January 3 will cover North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. For me, the most important thing that these highly touted areas have in common is not their universities — although those play a role — but the length of time it took for them to emerge as growth centers. Many of the necessary conditions developed spontaneously.