Ed Glaeser, one of the world’s foremost urban economists, spoke to CDE’s executive director Ann Bernstein about capitalism, Covid-19, and the future of cities. Monhla Hlahla, Chairman of Royal Bafokeng Holdings, opened the event.
Countries with more than 50% urbanisation are on average five times richer than and have mortality levels of less than a third of those countries with less than 50% urbanisation.
In Glaeser’s view, socialism is a machine for empowering insiders, whereas capitalism was designed for outsiders. Today, however, many of capitalism’s defenders focus on defending the status quo.
“Cities are part of the development process because they are a conduit for knowledge. This knowledge, combined with natural human energy, makes cities incredibly important places where poor people can find opportunity,” he said.
Questioned about the future of capitalism, Glaeser said that it was important not to lose sight of Adam Smith’s original vision, adding that “free enterprise is the only machine we have for enabling poor outsiders to become prosperous”.