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Economy

Don't Move People Out of Distressed Places. Instead, Revitalize Them

A new study shows that place-based policies are key to helping people in distressed cities, where investments should be tailored to local economic conditions.
A mural of Woody Guthrie in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since November 2018, Tulsa has been luring remote workers with the promise of $10,000 in cash. New research looks at the efficacy of place-based revitalization strategies.
A mural of Woody Guthrie in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since November 2018, Tulsa has been luring remote workers with the promise of $10,000 in cash. New research looks at the efficacy of place-based revitalization strategies.Steve Olafson/Reuters

America’s growing geographic divide is causing experts and policy-makers to revisit one of the most fundamental policy questions:  When it comes to healing distressed places, should we favor people-based policies that essentially help residents relocate to more vibrant areas, or should we favor place-based policies that focus on rebuilding the economies of distressed places and creating new and better jobs for people where they already live?

Economists have long come down on the side of people-oriented policies that essentially bring people to jobs.