Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mapping Yesterday's Economic Geography, Today

The economy we measure isn't the economy we have.

Theme: Ironic demography

Subject Article: "Time travel: An isochronic map shows where to go, how long it took to get there – and what changes were on the way."

Other Links: 1. "Commentary: Modernising Economic Statistics: Why It Matters."
2. "Demographic Deception."
3. "American Experience Transcript: Henry Ford."
4. "Seattle Is the Next Detroit."
5. "What GDP can’t tell us: Politicians pay too much attention to this outdated indicator of economic growth."

Postscript: Lurking beneath the surface of my last two posts is the debate about the productivity paradox. Either the best days of innovation are behind us or ahead of us. Regardless, the benefits of new technologies aren't showing up in the productivity statistics. For the techno-optimists, a possible (partial) explanation:

This theory asserts that productivity growth in health care is inherently low for the same reason it is in education: Productivity-enhancing technologies cannot easily replace human doctors or teachers. In contrast with, say, manufacturing — a sector in which machines have rapidly taken over functions that workers used to do, and have done them better and more cheaply — there are, at least for the time being, far fewer machines that can step in and outperform doctors, nurses or other health sector jobs.

To be crude, the growing share of eds/meds employment for the overall labor market may be dragging down the efficacy of technology to boost productivity. What if the world is on the cusp of rapid advances in the productivity and efficiency of health care services? What if, indeed:

My favorite example is electronic medical records (my wife is a doctor), which have tremendous potential to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery in the US. Even today, most information on patient care is transmitted between clinics and hospitals, and between generalists and specialists, by fax and telephone. A less efficient system is hard to imagine – other, that is, than attempting to coordinate patient care in the traditional way while undertaking the transition to electronic record keeping. New systems are being adopted and serially abandoned as their deficiencies are discovered. Different medical clinics and hospitals are installing systems that are incompatible and unable to communicate with one another.

Doctors will one day look back on all of this as healthy experimentation. For the moment, however, they are tearing their hair out. They are delivering less patient care as they spend more time hunched over their laptops, inputting data that adds nothing, currently, to their productivity.

Once all health care data is digitized, innovation should come fast and furious.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Seattle Is the Next Detroit

Henry Ford and Detroit radically changed the economic geography of the world. Now, Jeff Bezos and Seattle are poised to do the same.

Theme: Economic geography

Subject Article: "Amazon growing faster than ever — adds record 18,000 workers in quarter to top 183,000 globally."

Other Links: 1. "Beyond Rust: Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Fate of Industrial America."
2. "The Second Machine Age Is Dying."
3. "Amazon’s unprecedented growth is too risky for Seattle."
4. "Census: Seattle is the fastest-growing big city in the U.S."
5. "Seattle’s population boom approaching Gold Rush numbers."
6. "American Experience Transcript: Henry Ford."
7. "Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley."
8. "American Experience: Silicon Valley."
9. "‘The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies.’"

Postscript: Amazon will remake economic geography in more ways than just the cloud:

Amazon has been investing heavily in the logistics needed to extend all the way through its delivery chain. It is buying its own truck trailers, hiring on-demand delivery workers and building a new type of delivery hub — with technology that has thus far been kept under wraps — in major cities from Seattle to New York.

Analysts believe door to door delivery could be the next big sector that Amazon disrupts, in the same way it shook up cloud computing services by launching Amazon Web Services.

“The logical next step is, if you are going to have all this infrastructure, why not open it up to be a competitor to logistics networks like FedEx and UPS,” says Scot Wingo, executive chairman of ChannelAdvisor, a software provider for retailers that use Amazon and eBay. “I fully believe it’s something they could go after and be successful at.”

AWS is a much bigger disruption than the reinvention of logistics. In fact, the cloud allows Amazon to take on FedEx and UPS, dominating online retail. For now, I thinking AWS will shape where we work. A new type of delivery hub could shape where we live.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Los Angeles Is What New York Wants to Be When It Grows Up

If New York City is your adolescent self, then Los Angeles is what you aspire to.

Theme: Urban hierarchies

Subject Article: "How the Steady Stream of Creative Talent Moving From N.Y. to L.A. Became a Flood."

Other Links: 1. "Ed Soja 1940 - 2015."

Postscript: I'm wondering aloud if Los Angeles or someplace else could supplant New York City as the best talent refinery in the United States (if not the world). NYC could be enjoying the momentum of mesofacts. Or, NYC might be unassailable, as per the rank-size rule. I suspect the latter is true. See NYLON. Regardless, the bigger map is one of life cycles and the expanding scale of geography. Instead of leaving Manhattan for a Connecticut suburb, one migrates to Los Angeles.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lock-Out From Prosperity

California is a fortress of gentrification.

Theme: Geography of gentrification

Subject Article: "The Lock-in Effect of California's Proposition 13."

Other Links: 1. "The Geography of 'Displacement.'"
2. "When Moving Matters: Residential and Economic Mobility Trends in America, 1880-2010."
3. "For Millennials, Buying an Unaffordable Home Isn’t Always a Bad Idea."
4. "So You’re Moving To Portland."

Postscript: Article is Oregon-centric, but does a nice job of discussing interstate and intra-state migration in disaggregated terms. Using rates, California does a poor job of attracting new residents. However, the state does a "good" job of retaining them. Both trends can thank Prop 13. I'd love to know the percent of in-state movers who are renters.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sociolinguistics and the Geography of Innovation

The decline of the Southern drawl maps the diffusion of knowledge production in the United States.

Theme: Geography of economic development

Subject Article: "As a Southern community changes, an accent fades: Southern accents are declining in North Carolina. What does that tell us about social dynamics?"

Other Links: 1. "Altered States: A Perspective on 75 Years of State Income Growth."
2. "Debunking Texas Exceptionalism: De-Regulation Will Not Save Us."
3. "Fortresses of Globalization and Wilmington, Delaware."

Postscript: From "Interact with a wider circle and your ideas will take flight":

Decades ago, the University of Chicago sociologist Ron Burt showed that what matters about a social network, whether face-to-face or virtual, is neither its size nor the prominence of its contacts but the extent to which it provides exposure to people and ideas you do not already know.

The diminishing Southern accent is an indicator of a wider circle of ideas, which spurs innovation. Migration, not proximity nor density nor tolerance, foments creativity.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Goldilocks and the Geography of Innovation

A sweet spot in the Technology Readiness Level attracts private industry.

Theme: Economic geography of innovation

Subject Article: "Uber Would Like to Buy Your Robotics Department."

Other Links: 1. "Richard Florida, Roger Martin and David Wolfe on getting innovation right."
2. "Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley."
3. "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."
4. "Boston Versus Silicon Valley: Advantage Beantown."
5. "Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Artificial Intelligence in U.S."
6. "The Valley of Death."

Postscript: In "Engine or Infrastructure? The University Role in Economic Development" (1999), Richard Florida writes:

It is quite clear that Silicon Valley or the Cambridge/Boston regions are not the only places with excellent universities working in areas of potential commercial importance.  One way to begin to structure the problem is to think of the relationship between the university and the economy as composing a simple two-dimensional system, in which the university transmits a signal, which the regional economic environment must absorb.  Increasing the volume of the signal need not result in effective transmission or absorption if the region's transmitters, so to speak, are not turned on or are functioning ineffectively.  In short,the university appears to be a necessary but insufficient condition for regional technological and economic development.  To borrow a phrase from the work of my CMU colleague, Wesley Cohen and Daniel Levinthal (1990) what appears to matter here--and what is to often neglected in policy circles--is what we might call  "regional absorptive capacity,” the ability of a region to absorb the science, innovation, and technologies which universities generate.  Another way of saying this is that regions need to capture the "spillovers" of the technologies and innovations they generate.

I'll start by saying that there is a lot in Florida's paper that resonates with my own research into the matter. Also, the above quoted passage can adequately explain why tech transfer did not flower in Pittsburgh. I've learned that the flowering of tech transfer is rather beside the point. What happens at the university along the NASA scale from Levels 4-7 is, indeed, driving regional economic development.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

How Defining a Metropolitan Statistical Area Promotes Poverty

A metro only exists for those who can afford to commute.

Theme: Geography of poverty

Subject Article: "Mass. economy booms, but the effect is uneven: The town of Acton and the Boston neighborhood of Mattapan are only 30 miles apart, but one is booming while the other languishes in high unemployment and poverty."

Other Links: 1. "About Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas."

Postscript: As an amenity young adult urbanists adore, transit is divorced from employment. Considering "transit deserts" in Toronto:

To the authors of a new study out of the City Institute at York University, these facts expose “transit inequity” in Toronto: the people most dependent on transit, who pay a higher portion of their income to ride it, also get the worst service. The report, titled Switching Tracks, suggests ways the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area can achieve greater “transit justice.”

Among its main contentions is that, historically, major transit projects exacerbate social inequality. “The majority of infrastructure investments in the modern city have privileged the rich,” said Roger Keil, a co-author of the report. This is not only because wealthier citizens tend to wield more political clout, but because conventional planning wisdom dictates that major rapid transit lines should connect areas that are already thriving: dense residential zones, booming commercial areas, and transportation hubs.

Not only do transit projects help concentrate poverty, they are used to attract and retain millennials (e.g. Atlanta). Transit planners bear some responsibility for the growing inequality divide, as seen in the case of Boston. Jobs go unfilled in Acton while the unemployment line in Mattapan grows longer. Instead of tackling this issue, the question asked is "When Are You Getting Late-Night Subway Service?"

Monday, November 02, 2015

Higher Education Is Dying

Wage convergence is hitting many industries, including higher education as well as oil and gas.

Theme: Economic restructuring

Subject Article: "Don’t Be So Sure the Economy Will Return to Normal."

Other Links: 1. "Oil and gas execs say companies still recruiting to keep up with talent lost in layoffs."

Postscript: The oil bust is more about supply than demand. However, don't be so sure the energy economy will return to normal:

The idea that supplies of fossil fuels will grow ever tighter as demand increases, pushing prices inexorably higher, has been put on ice, perhaps forever. The lesson of the past decade is that so long as the right technology, capital and legal frameworks are in place, oil and gas will flow. If the world is to shift away from fossil fuels, therefore, governments will need to take deliberate policy actions to make that happen.

On the heels of a supply revolution (technologically driven by US industry) may come a demand revolution, driven by demographic decline and the second half of the chessboard for the second machine age.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Geography of 'Displacement'

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Theme: Migration and economic development

Subject Article: "An Antidote for the Unjust City: Planning to Stay."

Other Links: 1. "Economist Raj Chetty’s Proposals on Inequality Draw Interest on Both Sides of the Political Aisle."

Postscript: From "‘Migrants’ or ‘refugees’? It’s the wrong question. Here’s how to help the people fleeing to Europe.":

Focusing on whether to call the people entering Europe “migrants” or “refugees“ is itself part of the problem. It reinforces the idea that people on the move can be divided neatly into one of two categories: migrant or refugee. Human beings in the real world defy such simplistic categorization. They move for a wide range of reasons that fall somewhere between the extremes of purely voluntary and unquestionably forced.

Even to claim that migrants (or refugees) are "fleeing" is a simplistic categorization. The term "displacement" also deserves the same careful consideration.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When Generation Rent Becomes Generation Buy

Regions where Millennials are renting don't look like where they will buy homes.

Theme: Migration and housing

Subject Article: "Quick: Why I bought a house in Carbondale."

Other Links: 1. "Why the D.C. area risks losing its allure to millennials."

Postscript: Instead of fleeing the city for the suburbs, I think young adults looking to raise a family will leave the region in search of affordable single family homes in an urban environment.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

What the Rust Belt Can Teach Us About White Flight, Gentrification, and Brain Drain

With a focus on why people leave, we ignore at least half of the migration story.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Positive contact or 'white flight'?: why whites in diverse places are more tolerant of immigration"

Other Links: 1. "Brain Gain in America’s Shrinking Cities."
2. "Urban Decline in Rust-belt Cities."
3. "What White Population Growth in Detroit Means."
4. "The Legacy Cities Partnership."
5. "This Is Sprawl, Pittsburgh Edition."
6. "Census estimate shows Pittsburgh population decreasing."
7. "Gentrification and Residential Mobility in Philadelphia."
8. "A Self-Interested Approach to Migration Crises: Push Factors, Pull Factors, and Investing In Refugees."
9. "Does development reduce migration?"

Postscript: "Danes fleeing the big cities":

It’s mostly families with children who have made the move out of the urban areas in order to find a more affordable place to live, although they don’t tend to stray too far from the cities in order to maintain their jobs.

But despite the exodus, the capital and Aarhus are still growing, although that has more to do with immigration and an increase in births than urbanisation.

The supposed "urban age" is a lot of hype. Take immigrants out of the population equation and the United States has an epidemic of shrinking cities, including New York and Los Angeles. Americans are fleeing big cities, too.

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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Exploiting Puerto Rico's Fuzzy Sovereignty

With the homeland as neither nation nor state, Puerto Ricans twist in the wind of political whimsy.

Theme: Human rights geography

Subject Article: "The problem with Puerto Rico's debt."

Other Links: 1. "Murder at Sea: Captured on Video, but Killers Go Free."
2. "American Experience: The Pill."
3. "The Insular Cases: Constitutional experts assess the status of territories acquired in the Spanish–American War."

Postscript: "Reconsidering the Insular Cases: The Past and Future of the American Empire."

Over a century has passed since the United States Supreme Court decided a series of cases, known as the “Insular Cases,” that limited the applicability of constitutional rights in Puerto Rico and other overseas territories and allowed the United States to hold them indefinitely as subordinated possessions without the promise of representation or statehood. Essays in this volume, which originated in a Harvard Law School conference, reconsider the Insular Cases. Leading legal authorities examine the history and legacy of the cases, which are tinged with outdated notions of race and empire, and explore possible solutions for the dilemmas they created. Reconsidering the Insular Cases is particularly timely in light of the latest referendum in Puerto Rico expressing widespread dissatisfaction with its current form of governance, and litigation by American Samoans challenging their unequal citizenship status. This book gives voice to a neglected aspect of U.S. history and constitutional law and provides a rich context for rethinking notions of sovereignty, citizenship, race, and place, as well as the roles of law and politics in shaping them.

Thinking about the Insular Cases in a generic sense, citizenship in any space at any scale is not a binary. In terms of territory or turf, citizenship is experience on a continuum. In a neighborhood, newcomers do not enjoy the full benefits of citizenship that the most tenured residents enjoy. Newcomers are expected to conform and labor to fit in, prove they belong. For example, Spike Lee's rant about the gentrification of Brooklyn:

Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!

Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.

In this passage, Spike Lee is anti-newcomer. He isn't anti-gentrification. He invokes tenure as the measure for the right to define cultural space. Hey Spike Lee, get the fuck outta here with your xenophobic bullshit.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Atlanta's Talent Attraction Problem

From 2000–2013, Atlanta has fallen further behind other large metros in growing its population of college-educated young adults.

Theme: Higher education and economic development

Subject Article: "Best and Worst Cities for Educating Blacks: Instead of educating their own, some cities are importing college graduates."

Other Links: 1. "The Talent Migration Paradox."
2. "Debunking Texas Exceptionalism."
3. "Globalization and Atlanta's Gated Urban Core."
4. "Trolling for millennials with the Atlanta Streetcar."

Postscript: "We're now at a point in Georgia where you can't sustain those high attainment rates just by importing more people," says McGuire. "The challenges in Georgia, and in metro Atlanta for sure, have a lot more to do with doing a better job with the kids who are here than simply counting on lots of middle class families to move here and solve the demands of employers that way."

Friday, July 17, 2015

How Can Rust Belt Cities Attract More Immigrants?

Communities might roll out the red carpet for the foreign-born, but the more welcoming disposition doesn't do the trick.

Theme: Immigration and economic development

Subject Article: "Why newcomers are beginning to bypass Canada’s big cities."

Other Links: 1. "WE Global – Leading Rust Belt Immigrant Innovation."
2. "Population And Prosperity."
3. "Reading, Pa., Knew It Was Poor. Now It Knows Just How Poor."
4. "'The Handmaid's Tale' Is Economic Development."
5. "UNH study: Mexican migration plummets — as immigrant income rises."

Postscript: As the era of rural-to-urban international migration comes to an end, immigration to the United States will matter more in terms of quality than quantity. Immigrants won't boost the population. They will boost the regional economy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Re-Location Is an Entrepreneurial Act

Correction: A reader of the post at Pacific Standard sent to me an email message pointing out an error I made. I reversed the characteristics of System 1 and System 2 thinking. System 1 is "fast" and System 2 is "slow".

Out of necessity, old habits die easily for migrants.

Theme: Innovation and migration

Subject Article: "Easing the Pain of Relocation."

Other Links: 1. "The Economic Case for Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs."
2. "German Pork Butchers in Britain."
3. "Voting With Your Feet."
4. "The White Flight Myth."

Postscript: The psychology of migrants and the geography of migration are closely linked. While most migration appears to be economically rational, the precise location decisions are irrational. I live in Northern Virginia, a tight real estate market. I take advantage of the irrational location decision of well-educated mothers, who are willing to pay a large premium to reside in the neighborhoods associated with the "best" schools. I get more house in a better location thanks to the perception of school quality, which I know from graduate level data analysis courses in the social science to be off the mark in terms of outcomes. The movement between regions looks (and is) rational. But dig deeper into the destination region and stereotypes trump careful analysis.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Economic Growth in an Era of Demographic Decline

A shrinking population isn't the end of economic expansion.

Theme: Ironic economic indicators

Subject Article: "Obamacare’s Big Gamble on Hospital Productivity."

Other Links: 1. "Japan’s population slide set to accelerate."
2. "The Depopulation Bomb."
3. "Advanced industries drive down prices, making income more valuable."
4. "Era of Dying Places."

Postscript: Economist Tyler Cowen musing about China's demographic decline problem:

The Chinese employment rate has been increasing steadily, as has Chinese productivity.  In other words, improvements in both labor quantity and labor quality can help offset the aging problem.

Worth noting that Cowen isn't as optimistic about the same demographic pressures welling up in already wealthy countries. I disagree. But that's a larger debate for another time.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Political Geography of Market Urbanism

The later the economic boom, the greater the municipal area.

Theme: Demography and economic development

Subject Article: "Pittsburgh’s population challenges stand out."

Other Links: 1. "Jurrassic Park Houston, defending Texas exceptionalism, passing Chicago, Market Urbanism, and more."
2. "How soon will Houston pass Chicago? The question isn't whether we'll be the nation's third-largest city. It's when."
3. "Debunking Texas Exceptionalism."

Postscript: Real estate market economist Jed Kolko responded to my criticism of conflating population change with domestic migration by pointing out that population change strongly correlated (positively) with domestic migration. There I sat with a straw man argument on my lap. Or so it seemed. Data in aggregate often obscure more than they illuminate. For example, one of the largest domestic migration flows in the entire country is from Texas to California. That's a gaping hole in the assertion that restrictive zoning on building repels migrants. Demographics aside, greenfield development is a different animal from infill. Greenfields are cheaper and politically less encumbered. Economically, the Sun Belt is playing catch up with the Rust Belt (much like developing countries are chasing developed countries). This game of convergence is far from fulfilled. In fact, in recent decades, the wealthiest Rust Belt states have started pulling away again from the Sun Belt. So Sun Belt cheerleaders continue to hang their hats on population growth without fulling understanding the demographics. The Sun Belt is not exceptional. Most of it remains well behind the rest of the country.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Debunking Texas Exceptionalism

Winning the demographic lottery is nothing to crow about.

Theme: Ironic demography

Subject Article: "How soon will Houston pass Chicago?"

Other Links: 1. "Low Taxes And Economic Opportunity In Texas Lead To Youth Population Boom."
2. "An Urban Agenda for the Right."
3. "Shrinking City Chicago."
4. "The Texas Migration Miracle."
5. "Gentrification."
6. "Keeping a Strong Texas Economy."

Postscript: Out of one side of my mouth, I lampoon Texas Exceptionalism. Out of the other, I celebrate Houston's demographic exceptionalism:

“After 1982, the Anglo population of Harris County stopped growing,” said Klineberg. “And all the growth, of the most rapidly growing city in America, has been from the influx of African Americans, Latinos and Asians. And this biracial southern city dominated by white men has become, in the last 30 years, the single most ethnically diverse major metropolitan area in the entire country.”

Houston is special because of immigration, not domestic migration. State and urban policies do little to influence international migration. The touting of pro-business legislation and overall deregulation as the reason for the population boom is at least 75% nonsense (i.e. the part of population growth attributed to natural increase and immigration). As for zoning, or lack thereof, it takes a backseat to greenfield sprawl in terms of keeping housing costs affordable. The Sun Belt is nothing more than Rust Belt sprawl.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Talent Migration Paradox

Better to develop people and have them leave than to attract and retain college graduates.

Theme: Migration and economic development

Subject Article: "Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Import Their College Graduates."

Other Links: 1. "Joe Cortright Talent Dividend Metrics."
2. "Beyond the Creative Class."
3. "Talent Attraction Expert Joe Cortright."

Postscript: For the migrants themselves, attracting talent is economic development. For the destination community, migration is not economic development. The tale of two cities in terms of inequality concerns townies and outsiders. Tenured residents are left behind or pushed out of place.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Geography of Aspiration

Migration analysis places too much emphasis on push factors and not enough on the pull of opportunity.

Theme: Models of migration

Subject Article: "The low skilled are less mobile geographically because of the meagre value of work."

Other Links: 1. "Income per Natural: Measuring Development as if People Mattered More Than Places."
2. "A Sharp Drop in Interstate Migration? Not really: New data procedures led to misperception of dramatic decline in U.S. population mobility."
3. "This Government Program is Reducing American Mobility. Here’s Why That’s Hurting Our Economy."
4. "Benefits of Bowling Alone."
5. "Why are Higher Skilled Workers More Mobile Geographically? The Role of the Job Surplus."

Postscript: Fueled by macroeconomic cycles, who migrates and why change over time. Manufacturing jobs didn't offer a skill premium, begetting the Great Migration. Sometime after WWII, probably in the late 60s or early 70s (oil crisis of 1973 as a big break), the script flipped. The better educated had more reason to move. Couple that with a low-skilled international migration that mirrored the Great Migration and kept employers happy with a cheap supply of labor. Fast forward to today, companies in the market for low-skill or middle-skill workers will have a tough time filling positions.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Social Innovation and Informal Housing Supply

Changing zoning regulations is an inefficient way to address the housing affordability problem.

Theme: Economic geography of housing affordability

Subject Article: "Silicon Valley’s Extremely Expensive Bunk Beds."

Postscript: High rents be damned, young people will figure out a way to live in the city. About 20-years ago, I did the DC internship thing. Most of the interns I knew were affiliated with a college program, which took care of the usual room and board concerns. I had no such luxury. Since Amnesty International provided a commuting stipend, I lived way out in the boondocks with the mother of my girlfriend. Rent was free. My internship supported the 4-hour round trip journey to work. The situation was less than ideal. But that's what I could afford. The urban advantage is an irrational choice.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Are High Housing Costs Forcing Talent to Flee Silicon Valley?

The pull of opportunity, not the push of expensive real estate, drives migration from California.

Theme: Housing prices and migration

Subject Article: "Soaring housing costs forces talent to flee Silicon Valley."

Other Links: 1. "Find a New City."
2. "If the 1% stifles New York's creative talent, I'm out of here."
3. "The Ruse of the Creative Class."
4. "Not So Much 'New York Poor' as 'Pittsburgh Rich'."
5. "Innovation Geography: The Beginning of the End for Silicon Valley."
6. "The Lock-in Effect of California's Proposition 13."
7. "Domestic migration: Dreams of Californication."
8. "Proposition 13 Then, Now and Forever."

Postscript: Given all the bloviating about how market urbanism can fix California's housing affordability woes, this ditty from the Cato Institute now looks amusingly ironic:

Political analysts often argue about when the modern-day conservative movement in America began. Some say that it began with Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964. Others say it began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. I believe that the conservative, anti-big-government tide in America began 20 years ago with the passage of taxpayer advocate Howard Jarvis’s Proposition 13 in California.

Proposition 13 was a political earthquake whose jolt was felt not just in Sacramento but all across the nation, including Washington, D.C. Jarvis’s initiative to cut California’s notoriously high property taxes by 30 percent and then cap the rate of increase in the future was the prelude to the Reagan income tax cuts in 1981. It also incited a nationwide tax revolt at the state and local levels. Within five years of Proposition 13’s passage, nearly half the states strapped a similar straitjacket on politicians’ tax-raising capabilities. Almost all of those tax limitation measures remain the law of the land today.

Jarvis's tax revolt horribly distorts the real estate market, pushing up prices in California and in states receiving the equity rich migrants looking to cash in on the subsidy that Cato celebrates. As per usual, political ideologies make for awful policy.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Depopulation Bomb

Almost 50 years ago Dr. Paul Ehrlich published a book called The Population Bomb. Today, demographic hysteria concerns too few people.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Are People Really Leaving Illinois In Droves?"

Other Links: 1. "The Rachel Carson Homestead."
2. "The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion."
3. "Redemptive existentialism and Berkeleian metaphysics: a synthesis in Beckett’s plays."
4. "Where does Chicken Little invest?"

Postscript: The population bomb never went off. The population bomb never existed. The same is true about the depopulation bomb. Population change is neither a metric of success, nor is it a useful policy goal.

Monday, June 01, 2015

The New Geography of Jobs: Talent Production Versus Knowledge Production

Pittsburgh is the best place in the United States to flip property. What explains the real estate boom?

Theme: Geography of innovation

Subject Article: "Carnegie Mellon Reels After Uber Lures Away Researchers."

Other Links: 1. "Pittsburgh becoming 'flip' city as real estate market heats up."
2. "From Metals to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."
3. "The New Geography of Innovation."
4. "Do Jobs Follow People or Do People Follow Jobs?"
5. "Rust Belt Chic: Harvey Pekar."

Postscript: If you get a chance, do read The WSJ article about Uber poaching talent from CMU. I think a new economic geography is developing before our eyes. Explaining the real estate boom:

Pittsburgh missed the national housing boom of the early to mid-2000s, being a region where property values in many communities have either remained flat or grew at a snail’s pace. Historically, residents here also were less inclined to relocate from one house to another.

But in recent years, many neighborhoods throughout the city such as Lawrenceville have seen housing values appreciate by double digits as demand has been driven up by workers in medical, technology and the oil and gas industries, and as investors have swooped in to take advantage of the low prices and the high demand.

A lot of gentrification is amenity driven, and thus ephemeral. The gentrification of Pittsburgh neighborhoods is driven primarily by economic restructuring. Wages from global jobs are pouring into the city.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The New Geography of Innovation

Jobs don't follow talent. Jobs follow knowledge production.

Theme: Economic restructuring

Subject Article: "Uber gutted Carnegie Mellon’s top robotics lab to build self-driving cars: A 'partnership' based on poaching."

Other Links: 1. "Pittsburgh And Migration Mesofacts."
2. "LycosBurgh."
3. "The Power of Eds and Meds: Urban Universities Investing in Neighborhood Revitalizationand Innovation Districts."
4. "The Economic Geography of Tech Talent."
5. "It’s Not the People You Know. It’s Where You Are."
6. "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."
7. "Knowledge Spillovers from Research Universities: Evidence from Endowment Value Shocks."

Postscript: For the blog post title, I'm openly ripping off Enrico Moretti's book, "The New Geography of Jobs." The economic geography Moretti describes is in decline. More technically, it is converging, "Soaring housing costs forces talent to flee Silicon Valley." The jobs that once clustered in just a few winning places are diffusing around the country. The same industry cycle that took down manufacturing:

But what about the original question—whether it's possible to build a technology platform company outside Silicon Valley. A platform company builds technology used by other technology companies, from the iPhone that runs other applications to the Facebook login we use to access other websites, compounding each employee's leverage. This is why Facebook's market value exceeds $20 million per employee.

These companies don't have to worry about expenses much. As my first mentor in Silicon Valley, Kirill Sheynkman, once explained to me at a French restaurant, the point in an innovation economy isn't to spend less, it's to make more. And for a platform company, the value of being close to the technology companies that build on your platform is priceless.

But as our industry matures, the pressure will be on profits, not just revenues. And few high-tech companies get as much leverage as Facebook from each employee. Even a platform company like Twitter is worth about four times less per employee than Facebook. With less equity to burn, Twitter has had to be the pacesetter in raising San Francisco engineering salaries, which is why its stock is now under so much earnings pressure. Only the techiest of tech companies—and only their tech people—don't feel the pinch.

Not only is it possible to build a technology platform company outside of Silicon Valley; the financial bottom line demands it. So eroded Detroit's competitive advantage in the automobile industry. So eroded Pittsburgh's competitive advantage in the steel industry. What's next? Read "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Economic Geography of Tech Talent

The tech talent apple doesn't fall too far from the university tree.

Theme: Emerging economic geographies

Subject Article: "The truth about life in 2015 at Stanford, where 21-year-olds are offered hundreds of thousands of dollars right out of school."

Other Links: 1. "Ernest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885."
2. "Economic Geography Of Talent Production."
3. "Stanford University Is Dying."
4. "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."
5. "Silicon Valley is already dead."
6. "Comparative Localization of Academic and Industrial Spillovers."

Postscript: Private firms don't cluster near each other to reap some sort of density dividend. They aim to be as close as possible to a research university seeking proximity spillovers from the knowledge production for public good. Density doesn't drive innovation. It is an effect of innovation.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Technological Innovation Begets Migration

In a virtuous circle, migration and innovation make the world go round.

Theme: Innovation geography

Subject Article: "In the age of disruptive innovation, adaptability is what matters most."

Other Links: 1. "Space and the city: Poor land use in the world’s greatest cities carries a huge cost."

Postscript: This post was inspired by the latest paper from Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, "Why Do Cities Matter? Local Growth and Aggregate Growth." Artificial housing supply constraints are deemed to be a drag on economic output. That assumes lower housing prices would allow more people to live in the most productive places. That is, lower housing prices would beget higher population. Which raises the question, how much do housing prices affect inter-regional migration and population change?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stanford University Is Dying

You go where you know. You went to the wrong college and spent too much money.

Theme: Innovation geography

Subject Article: "How to Survive the College Admissions Madness."

Other Links: 1. "Silicon Valley Is Already Dead."
2. "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."

Postscript: The a-ha moment came while reading about how the regional economy in Waterloo, Ontario thrived despite the demise of Blackberry. The pursuit of tech transfer is the holy grail of economic development. Pittsburgh desperately tried (still tries) to hit on its own Blackberry. This quest spurred world class knowledge production at Carnegie Mellon University. That asset, as it turns out, drives economic restructuring.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Third Globalization: Human Capital and Demographic Decline

Half of the world lives in a country where the number of births fails to replace those who die.

Theme: Ironic demographics and globalization

Subject Article: "Investing in People as an Economic Growth Strategy."

Other Links: 1. "The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy."
2. "Extensive and Intensive Globalizations: Explicating the Low Connectivity Puzzle of US Cities Using a City-Dyad Analysis."
3. "Boston Versus Silicon Valley: Advantage Beantown."
4. "From Metal to Minds: Economic Restructuring in the Rust Belt."
5. "Peak Talent."

Postscript: "Rich countries' populations are beginning to shrink. That's not necessarily bad news":

Demographic decline worries people because it is believed to go hand in hand with economic decline. At the extremes it may well be the result of economic factors: pessimism may depress the birth rate and push up rates of suicide and alcoholism. But, in the main, demographic decline is the consequence of the low fertility that generally goes with growing prosperity. In Japan, for instance, birth rates fell below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman in the mid-1970s and have been particularly low in the past 15 years.

As economic prosperity diffuses, so will demographic decline. How we manage that demographic decline will define economic geography.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Pioneer Migration

Attract one person and an entire village will follow.

Theme: Brain drain is economic development.

Subject Article: "The Salvadoran town where migrants are hotly debated folk heroes."

Other Links: 1. "Baltimore puts out welcome mat for immigrants, hoping to stop population decline."

Postscript: In recognition of persistent urban poverty, Baltimore's stated goal of population growth is indicative of the dysfunctional politics in that city. How about better schools? Population data are an indicator, not a means to an end. Stop treating immigrants like a number and recognize that people develop, not places.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Make Knowledge, Not Widgets

Zero manufacturing employment: Coming soon to a regional economy near you.

Theme: Economics of knowledge production

Subject Article: "The pioneering continent: Innovation is increasingly local."

Other Links: 1. "The life, death, and rebirth of BlackBerry’s hometown."
2. "Silicon Valley Is Already Dead: Waterloo's tech boom went bust, revealing the rise of the intangible economy."

Postscript: "Does Rust Belt Manufacturing Have a Future?":

However, it should be obvious that we cannot run an economy by giving each other haircuts or exchanging chats and photos. Information has no value in isolation. Uber is worthless without cars, Airbnb worthless without housing.

Michigan Ross Professor Bill Lovejoy has the value trend backwards. The worth of a good is less and less about the manufactured product. Which means manufacturing companies must find ways to reduce labor costs in order to be profitable. See agriculture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Please Dehumanize Cancer Care

Decreasing the cost of health care is economic development.

Theme: Eds and meds

Subject Article: "IBM Aims to Make Medical Expertise a Commodity: Big Blue thinks its Jeopardy! champion Watson can make money by offering health-care providers new expertise without hiring new staff."

Postscript: The economic geography of health care:

Across Greater Minnesota, nursing homes are in a bind, trying to keep nurses from being scooped up by better paying jobs, often at hospitals. That's especially true in southeast Minnesota where nursing home workers are often lured away by higher-paying jobs and working conditions at Mayo Clinic.

Hospitals that export services and conduct research can pay employees more. Such institutions are fishing in a global labor market for talent. Most health care providers are fishing in a local labor market for talent. Wages must be kept down, operating costs low. Few places, such as Rochester, Minnesota, can center an economy on eds and meds.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Hubris of Social Science

I'd like a dollop of ketchup on that paradigm.

Theme: The politics of policy

Subject Article: "The Ketchup Conundrum: Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?"

Other Links: 1. "The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception."
2. "Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life."

Postscript: Ideologically, social science can or it cannot. Likewise, urban planners can or they cannot. People debating policy usually fall into one of those two camps. A third way, to which I subscribe, allows for social science to improve. With the failures of logical positivism in mind, I believe the time has come to recognize that social scientists and urban planners can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stranger Danger: How Community Stifles Innovation

Free-range kids are economic development.

Theme: Geography of innovation

Subject Article: "‘Free-range’ kids and our parenting police state."

Other Links: 1. "How helicopter parents are ruining college students."
2. "Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)."
3. "Why Designers Should Care About the Mechanics of Mixing."
4. "My own private metropolis."
5. "#LittleKnownFact Calvins dad and @Cliff_Clavin_ are related somehow."

Postscript: More evidence that greater density doesn't catalyze innovation:

Could a designer reverse-engineer a public space to support social mixing by cracking the code of places that already mix people well? We know the opposite can be true: Plenty of urban spaces suppress interaction and empathy between people by seeming unsafe, uncomfortable, just plain too crowded … or not crowded enough. But if we really understood the mechanics of mixing, could we design for it?

"Alone in a crowd" is a cliché for a reason.

Friday, April 10, 2015

'The Handmaid's Tale' Is Economic Development

In Europe, women are valued for their fertility, not productivity.

Theme: Demographic decline

Subject Article: "Sex Education in Europe Turns to Urging More Births."

Other Links: 1. "Haunted by The Handmaid's Tale: It has been banned in schools, made into a film and an opera, and the title has become a shorthand for repressive regimes against women."
2. "An Immodest Proposal: Foucault, Hysterization, and the 'Second Rape'."
3. "Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – in pictures."
4. "Where there's smoke: If you think there's something ditsy about Julie Delpy, prepare for a sock in the mouth. She puts Ryan Gilbey straight on acting, men, and why her new script features plenty of castration."
5. "Want More Women Working in Tech? Let Them Stay Home."
6. "I'm gonna lean in and put this on some muscle tees."

Postscript: I tagged this post about demographic decline as "Intangible Economy". The realities of a declining birth rate demand better productivity, greater workforce participation, and pushing retirement to an older age. The intangible economy (i.e. eds and meds) concerns these outcomes. Instead of growing GDP, we should aim to generate more disposable GDP per capita. Without getting into the nuances of amassing intangible capital, think of getting more out of education and health care while spending less on it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Oil: Resource Curse or Launchpad?

Lawyers striking it rich in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Theme: Economic development

Subject Article: "St John's: Big-city practice, small town lifestyle."

Other Links: 1. "The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey."
2. "Borderlines: Oh, (No) Canada!"
3. "What Dutch disease is, and why it's bad."

Postscript: A few weeks ago, a Texas magazine asked me to write about the impact of low oil prices on the migration to the state. Migration patterns are surprisingly resilient. Over time, persistently low oil prices would reshape U.S. migration. But we are probably talking decades, not months. Domestic migration is more dynamic than international migration. Thus, I expect Houston to continue to boom as an immigrant gateway. More importantly, the oil boom has gathered considerable brain power and wealth in Texas. I see it as the new California concerning the aspirational geography of choice for the location-fickle. Texas is much more than a petro-state, at least within the Triangle of metros the attract people from across the nation and around the world.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: The Relationship Between Population Change and Health Care

Shrinking communities deserve more health care, not less.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Nuanced thinking about urbanity this morning."

Other Links: 1. "Long-term economic growth stimulus of human capital preservation in the elderly."
2. "Trailer for the 1959 film "The Mouse that Roared" starring Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg."

Postscript: Concerning the other half of the intangible economy equation, the article title says it all, "Fix university funding, invest in schools that keep grads in Nova Scotia":

Unfortunately, we lack data on which programs at which universities produce graduates who are most likely to stay in the province and contribute to our economic renaissance. Put another way, we have no way of proving or disproving the hypothesis that what we have created in Nova Scotia is a wonderful machine for adding value to the human talent we nurture in our universities, but a machine that nevertheless recycles or exports large proportions of that talent westwards.

Invest in schools, not people, in order to grow the population. What a bizarre way to view higher education.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: Shrinking to Promote Economic Growth

Population decline is a positive economic indicator.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "How the Maritimes became Canada’s incredible shrinking region."

Other Links: 1. "We need to talk about population."
2. "Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: It's the Economy, Stupid."
3. "Hitler and 'Lebensraum' in the East."

Postscript: With today's data dump from the U.S. Census, the usual suspects are lamenting demographic decline. Instead of worrying about how to grow the population or retain college graduates, consider how to maximize the resident labor force:

The chances high school graduates will enroll in college after high school are lower in many rural counties, where the percentage of adults with degrees is lower.

Many rural counties struggle with population loss and often turn to retention "strategies" (i.e. crackpot schemes and boondoggles). Why not skill up those who decide to stay, invest in them? Smarter people working later into life can more than compensate for those who seek greener pastures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Demographic Decline in Atlantic Canada: It's the Economy, Stupid

Atlantic Canada is reportedly dying. I'll spend this week explaining why that isn't the case.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "We need to talk about population."

Other Links: 1. "Portland Is Dying."
2. "Portland Is Dying, Revisited."

Postscript: Net inmigration can be a negative economic indicator, "Will Growth Kill Portland?":

Aaron Benson, 24, is a motorbike mechanic from Austin, Texas. He moved to Portland last August. “I wanted to live somewhere that would be close to mountains and adventure, but would still be just as cool and weird as where I grew up,” says Benson.

For a lot of young people, Portland is home because they like it, not because it’s prosperous. “I didn’t have any kind of job set up,” continues Benson. “I have a pretty varied skill set, so I was just going to wing it and keep my dreams in mind.”

Yes, more newcomers means greater population. And greater population means higher rents. But the greater population doesn't mean more jobs and higher wages. Portland, Oregon is a lousy model for economic development.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aspiration to Migration

Migrants leaving home inspire others left behind to become better educated.

Theme: Brain drain is economic development.

Subject Article: "Migration Experience, Aspirations and the Brain Drain: Theory and Empirical Evidence."

Other Links: 1. "Americans' Local Experiences."
2. "Staying Close to Home, No Matter What: Fewer than half of Americans say they're likely to relocate, even if they think their town is headed in the wrong direction."
3. "Breaking Away conclusion."

Postscript: In general, particularly within the realm of policy, people misunderstand migration. Migrants aren't leaving your community or your state because something is wrong with those places. Aspiration, not place failure, drives migration. Thus, projects designed to help retain residents are boondoggles, a waste of resources.