Cities are Lindy

Covid-19 has resurfaced a recurring debate on the future of cities.

Since the dawn of the internet, and probably well before then with the advent of the telegram and then telephone, some have predicted the decentralization of employment as more work could be completed remotely. This has mostly not happened. In fact, employment appears to have concentrated in superstar cities and central business districts.

Now, with remote work arrangements forced upon us by a global pandemic, a popular narrative is reemerging that it is no longer necessary to pay high urban housing prices for access to good jobs. Email, Slack, and Zoom should be enough.

I’m skeptical of this narrative.

I do think that cities are primarily labour markets, and that participation in these markets is still best done in person. I also think that cities are Lindy– that is, they’ve demonstrated their survivability through countless challenges over time, including other major pandemics and technical shifts.

I think that the attraction of superstar cities in particular persists, that this attraction will remain priced in to their real estate, and will be investing on that basis.