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Is it possible for a state or a city to decouple its growth trajectory from that of its country? The answer to this question is not binary. Rather, it comes expressed in degrees that vary across places, and ultimately depends on the interaction of the factors that a sub-national unit shares with its country, and those that make it unique. On the one hand, sub-national units are generally subject to a series of country-level features that influence investment and growth patterns: the national legal framework and system of political representation, macroeconomic factors such as exchange rate regime, sovereign risk and interest rates; trade policy, labor regulations, and – in most cases – even the quality and history of institutions. On the other hand, sub-national units can exhibit stark contrasts with rest of the country in other relevant factors, like the variety and depth of know-how agglomeration they possess, the quality of diversity of its public goods, and its capacity to attract both capital and talent from outside its boundaries. Thus, the degree to which a city or state’s growth trajectory can diverge from its country’s will likely be determined by which of these set of factors is more predominant, and how these factors interact with each other.


Hausmann, Ricardo, Douglas Barrios, Daniela Muhaj, Sehar Noor, Carolina Pan, Miguel Angel Santos, Jorge Tapia, and Bruno Zuccolo. "Emerging Cities as Independent Engines of Growth: The Case of Buenos Aires." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP20-036, November 2020.