NYU Urban Seminar Series

Paul Romer: Getting Detroit Back Across the Viability Threshold

Brandon Fuller Brandon Fuller

Paul Romer led a recent brown bag discussion on options for getting the city of Detroit back across the viability threshold. Romer argued that Detroit’s decline cannot be explained by negative economic shocks alone given the economic resilience of its suburbs. He suggested instead that the repopulation of Detroit will turn on the city's ability to reduce crime by increasing the efficiency with which it provides public safety. He was cautiously optimistic that the changes in the command structure of the Detroit Police Department, enabled by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, were an important step in this direction.

Romer based the discussion on a formal model that you can find here.

Tile image courtesy of Laura Goins

Paul Romer

Director, NYU Stern Urbanization Project


Paul Romer, an economist and policy entrepreneur, is University Professor at NYU and founding director of the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, where he also leads the Charter Cities initiative. He is also the director of NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management. Whereas the Urbanization Project focuses on rapidly urbanizing countries, the Marron Institute conducts research on the challenges faced by cities in all countries.

Before coming to NYU, Romer taught at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. While there he took an entrepreneurial detour to start Aplia, an education technology company dedicated to increasing student effort and classroom engagement. Prior to Stanford, Romer taught in the economics departments at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester. In 2002, he received the Recktenwald Prize for his work on the role of ideas in sustaining economic growth.

Romer earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago after doing graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Queens University.

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