10 Inequality

Director/Producer: Tom COZENS
Music: Tom COZENS
Script: Tom COZENS and Professor Chris WEBSTER

Executive Producers: Professor Chris WEBSTER and Dr Eric SCHULDENFREI
Assistant Producer: Alex TAIT
Production Assistant: Winnie YEUNG
Editor: Nick BRIER

Academic Contributors: Professor Rebecca CHIU, Professor Shenjing HE, Professor Chris WEBSTER
Actors: Professor Shenjing HE and daughter

Land, labour and capital are the three cardinal factors of production. The trinity of human commerce and industry. For five millennia, they have stubbornly and progressively been attracted to each other like magnets. But only two of them are mobile. Land cannot move. Labour and capital therefore pour inexorably into locations lucky enough to have gained some initial advantage in the processes of human exchange. Like matter into black holes. We call these places ‘cities’.  The constant accumulation of labour and capital in one place adds value to a city and that value gets trapped in land. Urban land values spike super-exponentially, way above the value of a city’s hinterland. For this reason, there is forever a paradox of the urban poor. Cities cannot grow without low-income workers, but the capital accumulation that comes with the success those workers contribute to, will always price them out of the city. What new ways of solving this conundrum have yet to be invented? Is this beyond the benevolence of ‘Smart City’?

Chris Webster, HKU, 2021

Featured HKUrbanLabs:

Social Infrastructure for Equity and Wellbeing (measuring urban inequality)
Ronald Coase Centre for Property Rights Research (innovative institutions for capturing land value)
Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning (land value capture, social housing innovation)
Urban Ecologies and Design Lab (designing tiny humane homes for the poor)
Rural Urban Framework (designing homes and facilities for the rural poor)


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