Yesterday, I dipped my blogger big toe into the world of mesofacts. If the pace of change is slow enough, then most people miss the transformation. Perceptions become outdated, but still rule our behavior. How can we become more aware of such phenomena? Better yet, how can we make people appreciate an improved place shrouded in a fog of despair?
A good sounding board for exploring the above questions is a graphic published in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Concerning educational attainment, Pittsburgh is struggling. The hope is for a big jump showing up in the next US Census. That's unlikely. Pittsburgh's improving human capital is of the mesofact variety. A glance at the numbers results in the overlooking of the region's impressive talent dividend.
Pittsburgh's improving educational attainment has taken so long as to evade detection. Most people only see the dramatic population decline. They wouldn't think to look for evidence of brain gain. More notable are the boomtowns that are benefiting from strong in-migration. That change happens over a shorter timespan and jumps onto the radar.
This has serious policy implications. Political cycles turnover too quickly for the consideration of mesofacts. In this regard, the Talent Dividend initiative is seriously flawed. The return on investment will take time. Some cities, such as Pittsburgh, already have the improvement in the pipeline. The talent dividend will appear whether or not you follow Joe Cortright's prescription. But if your region hasn't been on the talent dividend bandwagon for a few decades, then your city is probably screwed. (Short of an in-migration miracle)