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Income and city size : the British Columbia case Boaz, Amram

Abstract

The economic variable that is of interest to most people is income and its purchasing power. Very little attention has been paid in Canada to the relationship between income and city size, while a considerable amount of research has been conducted in this area in the U.S. and other countries. The major objective of this research was, therefore, to examine the relationship between economic well-being, measured by real income, of the individual and urban size in the Province of British Columbia. This was done in order to determine whether British Columbia in light of and in spite of its particular economic base--a resource exploitation economy-—follows the general case elsewhere in the world, which indicates that incomes are positively associated with city size. The research results are presented in four main chapters. The author in Chapter II reviews the literature that deals with the question of city size. This review includes the evolving concepts of city size and a review of the recent and innovative approaches to this question. In Chapter III the author investigates the relationship between the various income categories and the urban communities in the Province of British Columbia. In order to carry out this investigation the urban communities were grouped into eight city size classes in a population size sequence where Greater Vancouver represents city size class eight. The analysis revealed that: 1. Mean per capita income is generally positively correlated with city size class. 2. Male average personal income displayed a U-shaped correlation with city size class. However, the highest average incomes were still obtained in the larger city size classes: seven and eight; female average personal income showed a positive correlation with city size class. 3. Family and non-family persons incomes, even though they showed an irregular relation to city size class, tend generally to increase with city size class. The author in Chapter IV investigates whether higher average incomes obtained in the larger city size classes are being negated by higher costs of living. He also investigates whether these higher incomes are obtained at the cost of a more inequitable distribution of income. An investigation into cost of living revealed a slightly negative correlation with city size class; this broadens the gap in terms of real income in favour of the larger city size classes. As for income distribution, the results indicated generally a relatively similar income distribution in each city size class, therefore higher average incomes are not being achieved at the expense of equity. The author in Chapter V, attempts to explain the higher average incomes obtained in the larger city size classes. Explanations included: 1. The labour force to total population ratios were higher in those classes and so was female participation in the labour force. 2. The age, educational and occupational compositions of the labour force in these city size classes contributed to their higher average incomes. The research concluded that economically the inhabitants of the larger urban communities in British Columbia are, on the average, better off than the inhabitants of smaller urban communities. However, the author does not propose that all urban communities in British Columbia should be planned to contain the same population size as that of the larger ones. Rather, the author attempted first to outline the empirical evidence as regards the relationship between income and city size classes in the Province; and secondly, to provide an analytical basis for policy makers to attempt to upgrade the inhabitants, and especially the females, of the small and medium urban communities through educational and occupational training programmes; and to encourage more female participation in the labour force in order to improve the economic well-being of the inhabitants of these urban communities.

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