How L.A. Lost Its Economic Mojo

Urban planning scholar Michael Storper to discuss how declining fortunes of the Southland metropolis offers lessons for other regions in Feb. 24 seminar

Michael Storper and seminar logo

Urban planning scholar Michael Storper will discuss how and why L.A.’s economic fortunes declined and San Francisco’s did not in a seminar on Feb. 24.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – For much of the 20th century, the differences between the economies of San Francisco and Los Angeles – the first- and fourth-ranked metropolitan areas in the country in 1970 – were minor. Today, the 10-county Bay Area region remains No. 1 on the income scale. The five-county Los Angeles region, however, which includes the Inland Empire, has slid to No. 25.

Michael Storper, UCLA professor of urban planning, will discuss what changed in a lecture, “How and Why L.A. Lost Its Economic Mojo: Lessons for Other Southern California Regions,” on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is part of the ongoing Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by the UC Riverside Center for Sustainable Development. The seminar will be held at the Alumni and Visitors Center, 3701 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside. It is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested as seating is limited and may be made online or by calling (951) 827-7830.

In an October op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Storper described a series of missteps by Southern California’s business community and leadership that contributed to the region’s economic decline.

“Put simply,” he wrote, “Los Angeles’ business class, its movers and shakers, were too conservative, too backward-looking in their goals and their style to recognize and nurture what would become the new economy. To the world at large, Southern California seems like the least stodgy of metropolitan areas. But when it came to what counts now — a highly interconnected ‘ecosystem’ of entrepreneurs and investors, technologists and innovators — Los Angeles stumbled.”

Storper will share insights into the reason for L.A.’s decline and lessons learned that will benefit other regions as they work to grow their economies.

The urban planning scholar teaches in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from UC Berkeley, and received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. He was elected to the British Academy in 2012, and also received the Regional Studies Association’s award for overall achievement, the Sir Peter Hall Award, in the House of Commons in 2012. In 2014 Thomson Reuters named him one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”

He holds concurrent appointments in Europe, where he is professor of economic sociology at the Institute of Political Studies (“Sciences Po”) in Paris and a member of its Center for the Sociology of Organizations, and is a professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics.

Storper’s research interests include economic geography, globalization, technology, regions, and economic development.


Established in 2003, the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development (CSSD) explores the social, economic, political and environmental impacts that population growth and movement has on cities and local communities. Housed in the School of Public Policy, the center facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations in the community through its staff and affiliated faculty via research, joint conferences, workshops and public forums held at UCR and in the community.

The Randall Lewis Seminar Series is an ongoing program of the CSSD generously funded by Randall Lewis, executive vice president of Upland-based Lewis Operating Cos. The seminars focus on a wide range of regional sustainability topics such as air and water resources, infrastructure and transportation planning, affordable housing and the fiscal health of cities.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Ron Redfern
Tel: (951) 750-4976

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