Summary of Countering the Geography of Discontent

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The election of Donald J. Trump to the US presidency in 2016 highlighted the stark cultural and economic disparities between small-town, rural America and the country’s thriving, cosmopolitan urban centers. These new social and economic realities result from long-term economic trends instigated by the digital revolution, a group of Brookings Institution scholars explains. The authors outline a set of federal economic policies that can help left-behind regions catch up. This eye-opening and well-written report will be of interest to policy makers, political activists and anybody concerned about the rise of populist discontent.

About the Authors

Clara Hendrickson, Mark Muro, and William A. Galston are researchers at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. 



America has become deeply divided between large, cosmopolitan metropolitan centers, bustling with economic activity, and culturally more homogenous small towns and rural areas that have seen their economies stagnate. The decline of manufacturing and the digital revolution of the 1980s intensified these cleavages, as the fastest-growing job categories favored highly skilled, digitally savvy professionals in the urban centers where digital firms took root. Since the 2008 financial crisis, 72% of jobs added to the US economy were in cities with populations over 1 million.


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