Glaeser concludes that Detroit has spent too much upgrading its infrastructure -- note the beautiful, but empty, people mover -- and not enough on its people. But there might be a reason for that. If you build a train in Detroit, you can be pretty sure it'll stay in Detroit. You can't say the same for its residents. Consider this study examining the way one state's investment in education can end up benefiting a more desirable neighbor. "Massachusetts, California, or New Jersey may benefit more from an investment in Mississippi’s research universities than Mississippi does," the authors concluded. Education, in other words, gives people the option to leave. And they take it.The question for Detroit, then, isn't just about making investments in human capital, but about keeping the humans around long enough to see some returns on those investments. So what does Detroit have over New York or Washington or Portland? It's not weather, potential income, safety, or school quality -- the normal markers of comfort and opportunity. Perhaps it's the pride of place, and the emotional appeal of a resurrection narrative, that we saw in the ad Chrysler ran during the Super Bowl. Or perhaps I'm just grasping at straws.
No, Klein isn't grasping at straws. It is pride of place that informs Talent Glut Pittsburgh. It's also Rust Belt Chic that is luring human capital to Detroit without a job in hand.