Global Cities and Socioeconomic Inequality: A Pathways Inquiry

75 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

Date Written: September 13, 2020


Inequality in metropolitan areas is part of a paradoxical triangle of competing motives over
resources allocation. Chief among inequality/equity rivals is the penchant for urban economic
development, but in recent decades, ecological sustainability has also become increasingly
important in this triangle. To understand inequality in global cities in such a context, one must
recognize the intensity of economic development motives for those particular metropolitan areas
seeking to maintain worldwide centrality, connectivity and command over the forces of
globalization. As a comparative analysis of 53 large U.S. metropolitan areas, this paper examines
the apparatus of a global city in response to globalization, particularly since such metropolitan
areas produce higher socioeconomic inequality than other places. Through a causal path analysis,
it empirically uncovers essential components of the paradoxical triangle in the ongoing struggle
of global cities to sustain their world-city status. In so doing, the evidence suggests heightened
inequality is a function of (a) the global city’s use of certain “cornerstone” resources to sustain
global advantage, and (b) its resultant polarized employment structure and commensurate
skewed social stratification.

Keywords: globalization, global city, economic development, income inequality, polarization, technology, innovation, sustainability, employment structure, immigration, metropolitan, urban policy

JEL Classification: J24,J38,J62,O15,O33,O51,R1,R58,Z13

Suggested Citation

Boschken, Herman L., Global Cities and Socioeconomic Inequality: A Pathways Inquiry (September 13, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Herman L. Boschken (Contact Author)

San Jose State University ( email )

One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0070
United States

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