Departmental Papers (City and Regional Planning)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

January 2004


Reprinted from Communities and Workforce Development, Edwin Melendez, ed., (Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute, 2004), Chapter 8, pages 253-290.


In the past two decades, major growth drivers in the U.S. economy have included computers and software, information "content" such as broadcast entertainment, and advanced services and manufacturing that rely on information technology. This is particularly true in leading metropolitan agglomerations, where synergies between the global reach of communications systems and the local intensity of face-to-face communication are crucial to getting the most out of talent, entrepreneurial creativity, and productivity (Graham and Marvin 1996; Hall 1999; Sassen 2001). The polarity between information haves and have-nots in the most dynamic urban centers is stark, however. The digital divide creates or reinforces cultural distance among people who are geographically within a few miles of one another (Mitchell 1999; Servon 2002). Significantly, since it has as much to do with earning power as with access to information, the divide also reinforces income disparities among urbanites (Schön 1999; Hall 1999; National Telecommunications and Information Administration 2000).



Date Posted: 01 May 2008