Constrained pathways to a creative urban economy

Shade Shutters, Rachata Muneepeerakul, Jose Lobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Creative (knowledge-intensive) occupations are now widely seen as a basis for urban economic prosperity. Yet the transitional pathways from a city’s current economy to a more creative economy are often difficult to discern or to navigate. Here we use a network perspective of occupational interdependencies to address questions of urban transitions to a creative economy. This perspective allows us to assess alternative pathways and to compare cities with regard to their progress along these pathways. We find that US urban areas follow a general trajectory towards a creative economy that requires them to increasingly specialise, not only in creative occupations, but also in non-creative ones – presumably because certain non-creative occupations complement the tasks performed by related creative occupations. This creates a pull towards non-creative occupations that becomes ever stronger as a city moves more towards a creative economy. All in all, cities with the most creative economies must undergo an overall diversification of specialised occupations, with a greater diversification rate for creative occupations, and maintain those creative specialisations despite the pull towards a non-creative economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3439-3454
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number16
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • economic growth
  • interdependence
  • networks
  • occupations
  • urban transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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