Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Immigration and Gentrification

The parochial and xenophobic Jane Jacobs at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Authenticity and romantic attachment to place.

Subject Article: "in defence of diversity."

Other Links: 1. "London Is Dying."
2. "Rural China Is Dying."
3. "Ask A Native New Yorker: How Guilty Should I Feel About Being A Horrible Gentrifier?"
4. "Hudson Street Ballet."
5. "The New York City Draft Riots of 1863."

Postscript: Both terms "brain drain" and "gentrification" misunderstand migration. I'm still looking for a good reason to distinguish gentrification from other forms of displacement and economic dislocation. In both cases of brain drain and gentrification, those who leave are 100% pushed out of the community. That is to say, the community could do something to make them stay. Migration isn't that clean cut. There is usually some push and some pull informing a relocation. Also in both cases, newcomers are dehumanized and ostracized. Most of the furor over gentrification seems like an excuse for xenophobia.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Australia’s Migration Hangover

Pop goes Australia's migration bubble at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Migration and economic growth.

Subject Article: "Our national journey to prosperity."

Other Links: 1. "Stranded Hotel in Australia Emblem of Mining Bust: Commodities."
2. "Lose it and move it: Displaced Americans move locally."
3. "Local Area Unemployment Statistics: Las Vegas-Paradise, NV Metropolitan Statistical Area."
4. "Real Estate Sizzles Again In Las Vegas."
5. "Net migration reaches 10-year high as exodus to Australia slows."

Postscript: Commodities boom. Commodities bust. Conventional wisdom has a boomtown playing the hand it is dealt wisely, investing the wealth into other parts of the economy. The same rationale applies to migration. How well is Portland managing its current largess of human capital? Not very well, as near as I can discern. I have similar concerns about Australia.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rural China Is Dying

Chinese people will cease to be Chinese people at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic convergence and dying places.

Subject Article: "China's villages vanish amid rush for the cities."

Other Links: 1. "London: people moving out, people moving in."
2. "Creative Class Myths About Talent."
3. "Beijing to Make It Easier to Bet the Farm: Leaders Set Goal of Clarifying Land Rights With Eye to Speeding Urbanization, Improving Agriculture."
4. "Environmental Explanations for Urban Migration and Sprawl."
5. "China's Pittsburgh Moment."

Postscript: Economic cycles and migration aside, I'm mainly interested in the connection between rural communities and national identity. Reading about China, I kept thinking about Mexico:

In addition to the gender of farming, the gender of out-migration from feeder states like Michoacan, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and more indigenous Chiapas and Oaxaca, has changed radically. Once upon a time only men headed for El Norte and the potentially mortal consequences of this dangerous migration but womens’ numbers in the flow north have tripled in the last decade as neo-liberal agrarian policies imposed from Mexico City have devastated the "campo" and the bottom has fallen out of Mexican agriculture.

Under presidents Carlos Salinas and Ernesto Zedillo (1988-2000), the Constitution was mutilated to allow the privatization of communally-held land, grain distribution was handed over to transnationals like the Cargill Corporation, guaranteed prices were scrapped, and credit for poor farmers dried up. Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon (2000-2010), presidents chosen from the right-wing PAN party, have hastened the demise of the agricultural sector.

The coffin nail was the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Every year since, millions of tons of cheap U.S. and Canadian corn swamp Mexico forcing small-hold campesinos and campesinas out of business. A Carnegie Endowment investigation into the impacts of NAFTA on poor Mexican farmers published on the tenth anniversary of the trade treaty calculated that 1.8 million farmers had abandoned their milpas in NAFTA’s first decade – since each farm family represents five Mexicans, the real number of expulsees comes in close to 10,000,000, at least half of them women.

Emphasis added. Growing corn is to Mexico, as rice cultivation is to Japan. NAFTA effectively destroyed the icon of the Mexican yeoman farmer. Migrants streamed from rural Mexico to urban America. Rural Mexico is dying. Which means, Mexican-ness is dying. The link between a rural landscape and the national soul appears to be a universal. Thus, urbanization is an existential threat to the state and not so surprising that many suppose the globalizing city is undermining sovereignty.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Creative Class Myths About Talent

Creative Class migration is intra-regional and talent migration is inter-regional at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic geography of cities and migration.

Subject Article: "Attracting immigrant talent essential to city economies, Coletta says."

Other Links: 1. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
2. "THE SOURCES OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT: WAGES, HOUSING, AND AMENITY GAPS ACROSS AMERICAN CITIES."
3. "Ernest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885."
4. "The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race."
5. "Big Fish Small Pond Talent Migration."

Postscript: This is my second post in response to Michael Storper's book, "Keys to the City: How Economics, Institutions, Social Interaction, and Politics Shape Development."

Canada Is Dying

Attracting talent isn't a workforce development strategy at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Migration and workforce development.

Subject Article: "Kenney tells employers to raise wages: Way to solve skills shortages."

Other Links: 1. "NEARLY EMPTY JAPANESE VILLAGE POPULATED BY LIFE-SIZED DOLLS."
2. "To ensure prosperity, immigration reform must not halt the flow of newcomers."
3. "Era of Dying Places."
4. "Upcoming Quebec election will be a referendum on tolerance."
5. "IT groups must learn to grow their own talent."

Postscript: Businesses pushing for more immigrants because of a "talent shortage" is a boondoggle. It's no different than pushing for more talent retention.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Long Island Is Dying

Real estate developers such at demography at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demography and brain drain.

Subject Article: "‘Brain drain’ should not dictate our land-use policy."

Other Links: 1. "Long Island Brain Drain Targeted by Planners, Developers."
2. "Dead Souls: Nikolai Gogol, translated from the Russian and with an introduction by Donald Rayfield."
3. "BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS: A PUBLIC ART CONTEST IN EVANSVILLE, INDIANA, BECOMES A DEBATE OVER CLASS, RACE, AND GOOD TASTE."
4. "'The New York Times' Is Dying."
5. "Are smarter women less likely to want children?"
6. "Attracting immigrant talent essential to city economies, Coletta says."
7. "Revenge of the Rabenmutter: No Sex for You."

Postscript: While I intended to shift focus from brain drain to gentrification, a spate of smart articles about general demographic issues that impact both "problems" popped up over recent days. In terms of policy, I'm reading communities coming to grips with a more nuanced understanding of demographic decline. Economic development as practiced now is not long for this earth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

'The New York Times' Is Dying

Celebrating brain drain from the New York Times at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Human capital controls and migration.

Subject Article: "Does anyone still work at the ‘New York Times’?"

Other Links: 1. "Fit to sprint: Top talent exits The New York Times."
2. "Editor exodus continues at NYT."
3. "New York as a Gigantic Refinery of the Nation’s Human Capital."
4. "Esquire: Where does the money go?"
5. "In Praise of Brain Drain: Want to help the developing world? Hire away its best minds."
6. "New Canadian teachers head abroad amid tight job market."

Postscript: Assertion:

Britain has a brain drain problem: it's one of the two countries whose inventors are keenest to leave home, according to a study for WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The :"journalist" continues:

WIPO is interested because of the negative effect on emerging countries of seeing their cleverest people emigrate. Africa and the Caribbean suffer the worst, with skilled scientific and technical graduates seeking more lucrative work in more mature economies.

Emphasis added. From the actual WIPO report:

The international mobility of skilled workers and its economic implications have emerged as important development topics. The project on intellectual property (IP) and brain drain seeks to generate new insights into this topic by exploring the potential of patent data to cast light on a specific category of highly skilled migrants – namely inventors. In particular, by exploiting information on inventor nationality and residence in Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, it maps the migration of scientists and engineers, thereby establishing a partial geography of high-skilled migration. The present document describes in detail the mobility patterns of inventors over the 1991-2010 period. The underlying analysis is entirely descriptive and, by itself, does not offer evidence on the causes and consequences of skilled migration.

Emphasis added. Upon clicking through to read the report, I expected to find brain drain hysteria. The clamor for a more effective intellectual property regime is the model for concern about brain drain. Talent is the intellectual property of businesses and places. If we do not protect this intellectual property for businesses and places, then they won't invest in talent. To WIPO's credit, it stays above the controversy. The journalist, on the other hand, is promoting a specific agenda.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Portland Is Dying, Revisited

It's the birth rate, stupid at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Economic convergence and migration economies.

Subject Article: "Steve Duin: The sustained mediocrity of Oregon's higher-ed system."

Other Links: 1. "London: people moving out, people moving in."
2. "London Brain Drain."
3. "Check of Portland’s vitals shows signs of life."
4. "'Fastest Dying Cities' Meet for a Lively Talk."
5. "Texas Is Dying."
6. "Chicago Is Dying."
7. "Germany's Ann Arbor Dilemma."
8. "Urban Innovators: University Park Alliance."
9. "Got kids?"
10. "Economist tells Akron group that attracting talent is key to thriving cities."
11. "Talent Attraction Expert Joe Cortright."
12. "Not Dante's Pittsburgh."
13. "Once nearly extinct, U.S. streetcar is back."
14. "Don’t count on future immigrants for economic growth."
15. "Rust Belt chic: Declining Midwest cities make a comeback."
16. "Millennials Flock to Washington After Abandoning City in Recession."
17. "Andrew Zimmern on AZ Canteen, Pharmashilling, and Why Pittsburgh Is Hot"

Postscript: Believe or not, I'm tired of writing about Portland. But then I stumbled into that Steve Duin opinion piece comparing higher education in Oregon with that of North Carolina. It was a good opportunity to clear the air about the Portland-Pittsburgh comparison. Enough of that. Andrew Zimmerman saying nice things about Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh: You talk about an island in the Darwinian sense. Here's a major American city stuck at the end of a series of river valleys, cut off from the rest of country. It is a Eastern European immigrant city — working class, blue collar — that has reinvented itself over the last 10-20 years with this craftsman approach to life that reminds me of cities like Austin, Portland, OR and Portland, ME. I hate to be one of those people who's like 'Pittsburgh is the next big thing,' but I get around more than most people and I'm telling you, Pittsburgh is like the next big thing. The geography lends itself, it's incredibly lush farmland, and inexpensive city with incredible history. They're renovating 100 year old railroad terminals into city markets. They had chefs who left the city because there was no scene and went to LA, they have the talent to be anywhere in America, and they have come back and can afford to open their own places and do what they want. It's very, very exciting. As a student of these things, there's just enough Fortune 500, sports teams, to feed that group. The art community and food community are kind of leading but there's money following them.

I think people who are in eastern Pennsylvania and it's like: Who can afford a $5 million house on the beach? Why not get a beautiful house on the river? I saw places that are just breathtaking. It's also got the Appalachians running through, so it's got stunning geography. The food scene is cool. Lots of good stuff going on. There are these old bars in these old 'hoods ... It's like today's special is goulash, tomorrow's is stuffed cabbage, huge portions. There's like three grandmas and a grandpa making this from scratch, the best stuffed cabbage I've ever had and I grew up on that.

If you think Zimmerman is gushing about the Burgh here, give this a listen: "Go Fork Yourself: Pittsburgh with Rick Sebak."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chicago Is Dying

Weighing the good and bad sides of Chicago at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Sabermetric demography.

Subject Article: "Now how do we keep them?"

Other Links: 1. "Will the foreclosure crisis kill Chicago?"
2. "Shrinking City Myths."
3. "Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Curious City."
4. "'I Wanted to Be Successful, and I Could Do That in Houston.'"

Postscript: I keep coming down on the side of Chicago is dying. I remain unsure if this is the case. Among the most globalized US cities, Chicago is the most affordable. It's a redoubtable talent magnet that also refines human capital for bigger and better things elsewhere. The global city distinction will remain a huge legacy asset. It also boasts perhaps the greatest assortment of Rust Belt legacy assets (e.g. research universities) in the entire country. Yet no place better epitomizes "the gated city."

Thursday, November 07, 2013

When Jobs Follow People

How shitholes such as Seattle attracted talent and revitalized at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Legacy economies.

Subject Article: "Kickstarter co-founder returns to Chicago."

Other Links: 1. "Iconic "will the last person" Seattle billboard bubbles up again."
2. "City of despair."
3. "The New Geography of Jobs (Enrico Moretti)."
4. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"

Postscript: While I'm not fond of the Lincoln Institute report, the term "legacy city" resonates with me. I'm working with the idea of "legacy urban economy". Demographics at the center, what Akron was is what it will be.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Doubling Down on Start-Up Las Vegas

Las Vegas gambling on jobs following people at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Urban growth and talent migration.

Subject Article: "Las Vegas’ tech sector has come a long way over the past year but still has some maturing to do."

Other Links: 1. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
2. "The city startup: Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project."
3. "'Young People in Omaha Are Able to Take Bigger Risks.'"

Postscript: The subject article makes a strong case for people-follow-jobs, demonstrating a disconnect with Tony Hsieh's downtown revitalization efforts. Fair critique or not, I'm still not sure what the people-follow-jobs approach would look like. After reading this recent post from Aaron Renn, I get the same sense of helplessness that Enrico Moretti expresses in his book, "The New Geography of Jobs." What can Las Vegas do in the face of economic divergence? A new post coming soon attempting to answer that question.