Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Geography of Poverty and Migration

At Pacific Standard magazine, the people who most need to move tend to stay put.

Theme: Relationship between geographic mobility and poverty.

Subject Article: "Why People Move:  Exploring the March 2000 Current Population Survey."

Other Links: 1. "America’s coal heartland is in economic freefall — but only the most desperate are fleeing."
2. "Decade after being declared nation's poorest big city, 1-in-3 Clevelanders remain in poverty."
3. "Misunderstanding Residential Segregation."
4. "Retail Redlining Is Reshaping Communities."

Postscript: Why the poorest staying where the jobs aren't is ironic:

But since 2005, more people have been leaving Vermont than moving here from other states, an average of about 1,000 each year. When people vote with their feet, they are saying something about the desirability of a state.

Those people are saying that despite its many attractions, Vermont is not a popular place for people to live and work. If it was, net migration would be positive, not negative. ...

... The out-migration of people tells us something about opportunities, the attractiveness of the state to people, its desirability as a place to live, and its overall quality of life. As people weigh all those factors, more have decided to leave Vermont than to come live here.

The popular perception of why people move is at odds with who moves and where they go. Furthermore, net migration is a function of coming and going. Who is moving to Vermont and why? To me, that's the more pressing question. No one asks because we believe place-failure causes migration. It doesn't.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Portlandia Paradox

Joe Cortright's "second paycheck" won't pay the rent in Portland at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demography.

Subject Article: "Portland: Hardly 'A Retirement Community for the Young.' Hey, New York Times: Portland happens to outshine many U.S. cities in entrepreneurship, job growth, productivity—and the elusive 'second paycheck.'"

Other Links: 1. "Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young?"
2. "The Young and Restless in a Knowledge Economy."
3. "City Dividends: Gains from Improving Metropolitan Performance."
4. "Is Portland Really the Place Where Young People Go To Retire? Analyzing Labor Market Outcomes for Portland’s Young and College-Educated."
5. "No Innovation Without Migration: Portlandia Is Dying."
6. "Metrics FAQ with Joe Cortright."
7. "Distilling Portland in a Glass."
8. "Keep Portland Weird (Or Forget About a Real Estate Boom)."

Postscript: Rising college educational attainment rates positively correlate with rising per capita income. Economist Joe Cortright implied a causal relationship between the two in crafting the "Talent Dividend" initiative. Concerning economic development, that's the Portland Way. Use cool amenities to attract/retain a college-educated workforce. Voila, per capita income will go up. In Portland, the talent dividend is yet to materialize. In Pittsburgh, it has:

"[David Albouy, an economics professor at the University of Illinois,] told me that he has always wondered why Portland doesn’t invest more in its institutions of higher education. If you took Portland’s quality of life and citizens, he said, and added Pittsburgh’s universities, you would come out with a world-class city."

That tells me that Albouy understands the causal relationship between college educational attainment rate and per capita income, while Cortright does not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

No Innovation Without Migration: Portlandia Is Dying

Creative collisions in Portlandia fail to produce innovation at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography.

Subject Article: "Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young?"

Other Links: 1. "Field Of Dreams Portland."
2. "We Got More Educated, We Are Better Off... Right? An Analysis of Regional Conversion of Bachelors Degree Attainment into Positive Labor Market Outcomes."

Postscript: In reaction to the subject article, Alan Berube (Brookings) tweeted, "Portland is 'overeducated and underemployed but GDP per head up 50% since 2001? Doesn't add up." Consider manufacturing. employment goes down while production goes up. More efficient labor means less people benefit from gains in economic output. Welp, "You Can’t Feed a Family With G.D.P.":

Percent change indexed to 1993 level
Per Capita G.D.P.
Median household income

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No Innovation Without Migration: The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance had little to with Harlem the place, at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography.

Subject Article: "In Whose Garden Did the Harlem Renaissance Grow?"

Other Links: 1. "The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America."

Postscript: All will tell the same story, of migration:

Alphabetically we can list a hundred names of blues and jazz greats from Perry Anderson to Muddy Waters and all will tell the same story: grew up in the South, honed their skills in the bordellos or clubs of a southern city, went on to fame, if rarely fortune, in one of the music capitals of the North or West.

Wherever the migrants ended up, a great music scene flourished. No innovation without migration.

Monday, September 15, 2014

No Innovation Without Migration: Do Places Make People?

People make places innovative, not places make people innovative at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography

Subject Article: "Scientific ties that bind?"

Other Links: 1. "Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities."
2. "Turning Buffalo from a Rust Belt City into a Start-up City."

Postscript: I'm spending a lot of time exploring theories about innovation geography because I'm trying to understand how universities can spur regional economic redevelopment. I hypothesize that migration is missing from the policy analysis and discussion. Could migration be driving Rust Belt urban redevelopment?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

No Innovation Without Migration: ‘Most Migrants Only Proceed a Short Distance, and Toward Centers of Absorption’

Looks like agglomeration, but short distance migration drives innovation at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography

Subject Article: "Job Hopping, Information Technology Spillovers, and Productivity Growth."

Other Links: 1. "Ernest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885."
2. "Local and Global Networks of Immigrant Professionals in Silicon Valley."
3. "No Innovation Without Migration."
4. "Triumph of the Entrepreneurial City."
5. "No Innovation Without Migration: Breaking Convention."
6. "Silicon Valley fights order to pay bigger settlement in hiring case."
7. "Your Knowledge Is Nothing If No One Else Knows You Know It."

Postscript: The introduction of the subject article makes the point better than the passage I quoted in the blog post:

Because the mobility of these skilled technical workers tends to be local, geographic location may play a particularly important role in determining access to the specialized skills and know-how required for the installation of these new technologies, and may partly explain why firms locate in high-tech clusters despite facing higher factor costs for other inputs, such as land and labor (Saxenian, 1996). The primary goal of this study is to test the hypothesis that firms benefit from the IT investments of other firms through the skill content of the IT labor pool because the flow of specialized technical know-how among organizations facilitates the implementation of new IT innovations. Although a substantial literature has focused on estimating the impact of R&D spillovers, there has been little empirical work on IT spillovers, and no work on IT spillovers generated through the IT labor pool.

Mind you, this forthcoming publication is dated January 2013. So we forge ahead with innovation districts regardless of how little empirical research has been done on the matter. Instead, we give the benefit of the doubt to theorists such as Jane Jacobs. That's a lousy foundation for policy and wholly ignorant of legitimate competing explanations with actual empirical analysis.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

No Innovation Without Migration: Breaking Convention

Michael Porter's cluster theory is modern-day snake oil at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography.

Subject Article: "Job Hopping: Driver of Regional Tech Growth?"

Other Links: 1. "No Innovation Without Migration."
2. "Industrial Organization Continued. The Concentration of Specialized Industries in Particular Localities."
3. "Clusters and the New Economics of Competition."
4. "The Pseudoscience of Jane Jacobs and Innovation Districts."
5. "Chile teaches the world a lesson about innovation."
6. "Job Hopping, Information Technology Spillovers, and Productivity Growth."

Postscript: Speaking of modern-day snake oil:

"The motor force of economic development is exactly what Jane Jacobs told us it was. It was the clustering of diverse groups of people in urban centers," [Richard Florida] said.

To be fair, Florida might be right about that. But we don't know for sure if he is. From the evidence I've weighed, I think he's wrong. Regardless, that's a big bet by New York City given the flimsy evidence in support of such an approach to spurring innovation.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

No Innovation Without Migration

It's migration, stupid, at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Innovation geography.

Subject Article: "Sure it's Pseudoscience if You Don't Read It Right: Jacobs, Knowledge, and Urban Growth."

Other Links: 1. "Exodus to the burbs: why diehard downtowners are giving up on the city."
2. "The Pseudoscience of Jane Jacobs and Innovation Districts."
3. "Poverty and Geography: The Myth of Racial Segregation."
4. "How Migration Makes the World Brainier."

Postscript: The more I spar with others over policy, the more I appreciate doctoral training. Generally, most people master one school of thought and go from there. In a quest for a Ph.D., one must master the debate between schools of thought. Debates I've had over housing affordability illustrate this. There's the Edward Glaeser school (rational research) and there's the Not Edward Glaeser school (irrational ranting). Within the Edward Glaeser school, we have debates over the quality of the models and how well they measure empirical reality. That's what you see when you read the literature review section of the peer reviewed academic publication. That's because the stated aspiration of such research is very limited in scope. Can we prove that land-use restrictions drive up real estate prices? That's a very modest goal that gets way overstated in the realm of policy. Establishing the connection between land-use restrictions and real estate prices isn't, in and of itself, a compelling reason to upzone an urban area and increase residential (or commercial) density. We have competing schools of thought that actually evaluate the efficacy of policies designed to make real estate more affordable. First step in policy evaluation: identify the controversy and each side's supporting research. There isn't a debate about whether or not deregulation can drive down housing costs.