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Campus Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Regional Planning

Degree Type

Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



In economic development there are many theories and practices that aim to best improve the vitality of cities, regions, and areas. Among such theories, few have been as widely celebrated and, at the same time, heavily scrutinized as Richard Florida’s Creative Class hypothesis (Florida, 2004). The Creative Class hypothesis associates the preferences of creative class workers (ie: highly skilled workers) closely with concentrations lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, which is used to represent open and tolerance social climates.

The Creative Class was measured by Florida as a collection of occupations derived from Census data that he defined as occupations that involve a high amount of problem solving capability by the worker (Florida, 2004). Mainly this occupation classification excludes low-skill labor, but includes occupations such as Artists, Writers, Actors as well as Researchers (both hard and soft science), Professors, Architects and Lawyers just to name a few (Florida, 2004).

This research aims to evaluate the relationship between concentrations of LGBT people and any economic benefits a region might experience as a result of being home to an open and tolerant social climate. In general, I find that there is little correlation between high concentrations of same sex unmarried partners and regional differences in per capita income and unemployment. For instance, when holding constant outliers with high concentrations of same sex couples, the data measuring economic benefit is not greatly affected, but when variables showing educational and occupational effects are introduced, the difference is more dramatic. There is, however, a strong correlation between the concentration same sex households with both educational attainment and Creative Class occupations. Thus, although the relationship between same sex unmarried partners and short-run economic performance is weak, it is still important that there is some kind of relationship that is present and that this is just one of many moving parts that can be helpful to developing economic development policy. This statement does not seek to replace certain occupational diversity and educational attainment as major economic development core long-term strategies, but offers a different perspective on what to consider when discussing such policy.


First Advisor

Henry C. Renski