Resilience is increasing rapidly as a framework to understand and manage coupled human–natural systems. Yet the concept of resilience is rarely quantified. Here we quantify system resilience by operationalizing the notion of system tightness. Multiple resilience frameworks recognize the strong relationship between system tightness and resilience, though they differ on the directionality of that relationship. Thus, by measuring the system tightness we ultimately measure urban economic resilience, with the added benefit of empirically determining the directionality of the relationship between tightness and resilience. We then assess how well this measure predicts the response of urban economies to the recent so-called Great Recession. Results show that cities with lower tightness (higher resilience) fared better during the recession with respect to several economic productivity measures. However, in the absence of shocks, those with higher tightness (lower resilience) exhibit superior economic performance. Thus, a tradeoff between efficiency and resilience is nicely reflected in the empirical data. Although this study deals with economic shocks, quantitative metrics based on its methodology may help anticipate a city’s response to shocks more generally, such as natural disasters, climate change, social unrest or significant policy shifts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities(all)
- Social Sciences(all)
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)