Friday, March 27, 2015

Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: The Relationship Between Population Change and Health Care

Shrinking communities deserve more health care, not less.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Nuanced thinking about urbanity this morning."

Other Links: 1. "Long-term economic growth stimulus of human capital preservation in the elderly."
2. "Trailer for the 1959 film "The Mouse that Roared" starring Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg."

Postscript: Concerning the other half of the intangible economy equation, the article title says it all, "Fix university funding, invest in schools that keep grads in Nova Scotia":

Unfortunately, we lack data on which programs at which universities produce graduates who are most likely to stay in the province and contribute to our economic renaissance. Put another way, we have no way of proving or disproving the hypothesis that what we have created in Nova Scotia is a wonderful machine for adding value to the human talent we nurture in our universities, but a machine that nevertheless recycles or exports large proportions of that talent westwards.

Invest in schools, not people, in order to grow the population. What a bizarre way to view higher education.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: Shrinking to Promote Economic Growth

Population decline is a positive economic indicator.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "How the Maritimes became Canada’s incredible shrinking region."

Other Links: 1. "We need to talk about population."
2. "Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: It's the Economy, Stupid."
3. "Hitler and 'Lebensraum' in the East."

Postscript: With today's data dump from the U.S. Census, the usual suspects are lamenting demographic decline. Instead of worrying about how to grow the population or retain college graduates, consider how to maximize the resident labor force:

The chances high school graduates will enroll in college after high school are lower in many rural counties, where the percentage of adults with degrees is lower.

Many rural counties struggle with population loss and often turn to retention "strategies" (i.e. crackpot schemes and boondoggles). Why not skill up those who decide to stay, invest in them? Smarter people working later into life can more than compensate for those who seek greener pastures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: It's the Economy, Stupid

Atlantic Canada is reportedly dying. I'll spend this week explaining why that isn't the case.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "We need to talk about population."

Other Links: 1. "Portland Is Dying."
2. "Portland Is Dying, Revisited."

Postscript: Net inmigration can be a negative economic indicator, "Will Growth Kill Portland?":

Aaron Benson, 24, is a motorbike mechanic from Austin, Texas. He moved to Portland last August. “I wanted to live somewhere that would be close to mountains and adventure, but would still be just as cool and weird as where I grew up,” says Benson.

For a lot of young people, Portland is home because they like it, not because it’s prosperous. “I didn’t have any kind of job set up,” continues Benson. “I have a pretty varied skill set, so I was just going to wing it and keep my dreams in mind.”

Yes, more newcomers means greater population. And greater population means higher rents. But the greater population doesn't mean more jobs and higher wages. Portland, Oregon is a lousy model for economic development.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aspiration to Migration

Migrants leaving home inspire others left behind to become better educated.

Theme: Brain drain is economic development.

Subject Article: "Migration Experience, Aspirations and the Brain Drain: Theory and Empirical Evidence."

Other Links: 1. "Americans' Local Experiences."
2. "Staying Close to Home, No Matter What: Fewer than half of Americans say they're likely to relocate, even if they think their town is headed in the wrong direction."
3. "Breaking Away conclusion."

Postscript: In general, particularly within the realm of policy, people misunderstand migration. Migrants aren't leaving your community or your state because something is wrong with those places. Aspiration, not place failure, drives migration. Thus, projects designed to help retain residents are boondoggles, a waste of resources.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You Go Where You Know

Who you are predicts where you will go in the city.

Theme: Geography as a social science

Subject Article: "The Emerging Science of Computational Anthropology: Location-based social networks are allowing scientists to study the way human patterns of behavior change in time and space, a technique that should eventually lead to deeper insights into the nature of society."

Other Links: 1. "Indigenization of Urban Mobility."

Postscripts: Geography is the social science discipline without a home. Geographers steal theory from other disciplines. Other disciplines do geography and call it anthropology or economics or political science. For decades, geopolitics (the dark art of geography) was banned from US universities. It was taboo. Even today, rankings of graduate programs often overlook geography departments. Geography as a form of knowledge production is illegitimate.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Geography of Supply and Demand

Where supply and demand comes from matters.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Reggie Jackson and the Cost of Health Care."

Other Links: 1. "Mayo Clinic and the teleconference that saves lives."

Postscript: Geography is just one variable characterizing the quality of supply and demand in any market. For example, the labor market in Rochester, New York:

While the path has been uneven, the Rochester region in fact has added private-sector jobs over the last quarter-century. But this fact says little about the quality of those jobs.

Qualitative assessments, of course, are a matter of interpretation. Not everyone would define a “good job” the same way.

A recent report from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, however, provides a solid benchmark for a healthy local economy by examining its advanced industries sector. These industries—characterized by technology research and development and workers with science, technology, engineering and math skills—not only pay more, but also generate more value per worker than those outside this sector.

Overall, Rochester's job growth may look anemic. But certain employment can have out-sized economic impact, which typical metrics fail to capture. We are left with a sad tale at odds with reality.

I've been down this road before, using Pittsburgh instead of Rochester. Employers are willing to pay higher wages for unique talent. See the analogy of Reggie Jackson for the high cost of health care. In an era of demographic decline, the quality of demand for labor is more important than the quantity of demand.