New Cities

The New Cities Program, supported jointly with the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, is focused on the potential for startup cities to fast track reform and facilitate global migration. The world will add billions of new urban residents this century. Existing cities will expand, and many entirely new cities will emerge. We’re working with governments to realize a world in which every family—including families of refugees—can choose between several safe, vibrant, and economically dynamic cities, each of which is vying to attract them as residents.


The world has locations where many new cities will be built. The benefits that these cities could generate are so large that they could be self-financing. As with any type of startup, there is no doubt that some upstart cities will fail to take off. However, those that do succeed will quickly give new social and economic opportunities to millions of people who currently lack good options—generating benefits that dwarf the costs from experimenting with new cities that never manage to get off the ground.

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Program Lead: Paul Romer

Paul Romer
Paul Romer
University Professor (on leave) / NYU

Paul Romer, an economist and policy entrepreneur, is a University Professor taking leave from NYU to serve as Chief Economist of the World Bank starting September 26, 2016. Romer was the former Director of the Marron Institute and the founding director of the Urbanization Project at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business. The Urbanization Project conducts applied research on the many ways in which policymakers in the developing world can use the rapid growth of cities to create economic opportunity and undertake systemic social reform.

Before coming to NYU, Paul taught at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. While there Paul took an entrepreneurial detour to start Aplia, an education technology company dedicated to increasing student effort and classroom engagement. To date, students have submitted over 1 billion answers to homework problems on the Aplia website.

Prior to Stanford, Paul taught in the economics departments at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a non-resident scholar at both the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. and the Macdonald Laurier Institute in Ottawa, Ontario. In 2002, he received the Recktenwald Prize for his work on the role of ideas in sustaining economic growth.

Paul earned a bachelor of science in mathematics from the University of Chicago. He earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago after doing graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Queens University.

Urbanization as Opportunity

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/ Apr 30,2015

Romer on Urbanization, Charter Cities, and Growth Theory

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