Thursday, September 24, 2015

Migrant or Refugee?

The ontology of refugee is the problem, not the solution.

Theme: Geography of migration

Subject Article: "If she drowns she's a refugee, if she floats she's an economic migrant."

Other Links: 1. "Rethinking post-national citizenship: The relationship between state territory and international human rights law."

Postscript: For my doctoral dissertation (I didn't get beyond the exam stage), I intended to define geographic inquiry into the issue of human rights. My case study was the Reagan era interpretation of the Refugee Act, which paved the way for the spatial loophole known as Guantanamo. Migrants, domestic or international, experience less rights depending on where they are. Should what a newcomer to a neighborhood wants carry the same weight as what a tenured resident wants? Spike Lee's rant about gentrification is just as xenophobic as the anti-immigrant vitriol on display right now in Europe. All newcomers aren't welcome.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Geographic Scale of Globalization Isn't Global

Nations—and even cities—don't globalize. Globalization spreads block by block.

Theme: Geography of globalization

Subject Article: "What cities tell us about the economy."

Other Links: 1. "Blast from my past: "The Pentagon's New Map" (2003)."
2. "Mapping America's War on Terrorism: An Aggressive New Strategy."
3. "Of cars and carts: Despite decades of reform, most Mexicans are still a long way from wealth and modernity."
4. "Get Canuckified at Moe's."
5. "Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience."
6. "A Long History of a Short Block: Four Centuries of Development Surprises on a Single Stretch of a New York City Street."
7. "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."
8. "Urban Decline in Rust-belt Cities."

Postscript: Demographer John Weeks also looked at the Economist article about economic development in Mexico:

But the birth rate is not evenly low throughout Mexico, even though it is lower in every state now than it used to be. I created a state-by-state map of the TFR in Mexico for 2000 from the INEGI data, and you can see that fertility is very low in Mexico City and especially in states closer to the US-Mexico border. I used data for 2000 instead of 2013 for the map because these data will reflect the youth population of today--the group of people needing to be absorbed by the Mexican economy. The state of Guerrero, just to the south of Mexico City (albeit over the mountains), and the state of Coahuila, bordering south Texas, had the highest fertility levels in 2000 (as they do still now). So, proximity to the engines of modernization (i.e., Mexico City and the US) does not ensure low fertility. At the same time, the lowest levels of fertility are generally found in Mexico City and its surrounding areas, and along the rest of the US-Mexico except for Coahuila. But you can also see that fertility is below average in the Yucatan peninsula. As the Economist rightly notes, it is the combination of geography and culture that matters, and that is the essence of spatial demography.

Fair to say, Weeks comes to a different conclusion than I do. I make a big deal about proximity to the engines of modernization. Weeks downplays the effects. The two perspective aren't mutually exclusive. Instead, the tension raises a host of interesting research questions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Debunking Texas Exceptionalism: De-Regulation Will Not Save Us

Houston has a de facto zoning problem.

Theme: Geographic stereotypes

Subject Article: "Forget What You’ve Heard, Houston Really Does Have Zoning (Sort Of)."

Other Links: 1. "No Old Maps Actually Say 'Here Be Dragons'."
2. "Houston, New York Has a Problem: The southern city welcomes the middle class; heavily regulated and expensive Gotham drives it away."
3. "Debunking Texas Exceptionalism."
4. "The Shapes of Cities."

Postscript: Unfortunately, ideological thinking drives a lot of academic inquiry. Density is good. Sprawl is bad. Deregulation is good. Big government is bad. The facts are made to fit an a priori conclusion. The author over-interprets the data. I'm most sensitive to the use of normative geographies. Houston's lack of zoning doesn't make the city exceptional. What makes the metro so active to the middle class? Sprawl. Density bad. Sprawl good. See what I mean?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Second Machine Age Is Dying

Get ready for an unprecedented economic boom in the United States.

Theme: Geography of economic convergence

Subject Article: "How New Orleans Built a Bustling Tech Hub in Katrina's Wake."

Postscript: In both the first and second machine age, the economy is geographically divergent and then geographically convergent. The iconic place of divergent first machine age was Pittsburgh with its dominance of steel production:

The 40-year period from 1870 until 1910 marked Pittsburgh’s Golden Age. Favorable geography, unique natural resources and a super-abundance of entrepreneurial talent lifted Pittsburgh to a position of national and international prominence never seen before or since.  Pittsburgh’s growth is a story of heavy industry, specifically steel. Population statistics speak to Pittsburgh’s dynamism during this period. The city’s population grew sixfold in those 40 years, from 86,076 to 533,905. Allegheny County nearly quadrupled, to 1,018,463 residents. The local population growth rate doubled that of the nation. In 1900 the value of manufactured products in Pittsburgh was more than Cleveland and Detroit combined.

1910 was peak Pittsburgh. 1910 was peak divergent first machine age in the United States. After that, the region experienced a long slide that lasted about a century. In terms of manufacturing (the dominant industry of the first machine age), that slide continues in terms of labor market share.

The iconic place of convergent first machine age was Detroit:

For almost a half century last century, Detroit was a boom town. Between 1910 and 1950, few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City.

1950 was peak Detroit. 1950 was peak convergent first machine age in the United States. After that, the region experienced a long slide that well could last a century. The automobile isn't coming back, at least in terms of employment.

For almost a half century last century, Silicon Valley was a boom town. The 40-year period from 1950 until 1990 marked Silicon Valley's Golden Age. It was the iconic place of divergent second machine age.

That means we are about 25 years into convergent second machine age. Seattle? Boston? Someplace else? I'm trying to locate the iconic place of the convergent cycle of the second machine age.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ezra Klein Is Transforming Education

Journalists have replaced teachers as the curators of expertise.

Theme: Workforce development and talent

Subject Article: "Ezra Klein Finds Conversations About the Future of Journalism 'Tiresome.'"

Other Links: 1. "Labor Disputes, Wooden Shoes, and Italian Bread."

Postscript: Concerning economic development, I focus on education and health care. The interview with Ezra Klein says a lot more about the future of education than it does journalism. Readers consume content and learn. Klein's business model subsidizes that education. Klein's business model cares more about the quality of the audience than quantity of audience. This is a matter of education, not journalism.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Top Talent Must Flee Silicon Valley

In order for tech workers to cash out on home equity, Proposition 13 forces them to move to another state.

Theme: Real estate refugees

Subject Article: "Silicon Valley is Going to Retrench in 2016."

Other Links: 1. "Are High Housing Costs Forcing Talent to Flee Silicon Valley?"
2. "The Lock-in Effect of California's Proposition 13."
3. "Tesla says Nevada battery plant on track despite report of delay."

Postscript: Expensive Bay Area real estate does much more to deter talent from moving there than it does to push it out. In fact, the tech industry might have converged faster nationally if Proposition 13 didn't discourage relocation. Supply isn't distorted as much as demand is. As out of state tech markets become more attractive to talent, the Prop 13 effect will flip from an agent of retention to one of exodus.