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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You Go Where You Know

Who you are predicts where you will go in the city.

Theme: Geography as a social science

Subject Article: "The Emerging Science of Computational Anthropology: Location-based social networks are allowing scientists to study the way human patterns of behavior change in time and space, a technique that should eventually lead to deeper insights into the nature of society."

Other Links: 1. "Indigenization of Urban Mobility."

Postscripts: Geography is the social science discipline without a home. Geographers steal theory from other disciplines. Other disciplines do geography and call it anthropology or economics or political science. For decades, geopolitics (the dark art of geography) was banned from US universities. It was taboo. Even today, rankings of graduate programs often overlook geography departments. Geography as a form of knowledge production is illegitimate.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Geography of Supply and Demand

Where supply and demand comes from matters.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Reggie Jackson and the Cost of Health Care."

Other Links: 1. "Mayo Clinic and the teleconference that saves lives."

Postscript: Geography is just one variable characterizing the quality of supply and demand in any market. For example, the labor market in Rochester, New York:

While the path has been uneven, the Rochester region in fact has added private-sector jobs over the last quarter-century. But this fact says little about the quality of those jobs.

Qualitative assessments, of course, are a matter of interpretation. Not everyone would define a “good job” the same way.

A recent report from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, however, provides a solid benchmark for a healthy local economy by examining its advanced industries sector. These industries—characterized by technology research and development and workers with science, technology, engineering and math skills—not only pay more, but also generate more value per worker than those outside this sector.

Overall, Rochester's job growth may look anemic. But certain employment can have out-sized economic impact, which typical metrics fail to capture. We are left with a sad tale at odds with reality.

I've been down this road before, using Pittsburgh instead of Rochester. Employers are willing to pay higher wages for unique talent. See the analogy of Reggie Jackson for the high cost of health care. In an era of demographic decline, the quality of demand for labor is more important than the quantity of demand.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Robert Putnam Is Wrong About Social Capital

Too much social capital—not too little—is driving a wedge of income inequality between Americans.

Theme: Globalization and income inequality

Subject Article: "The terrible loneliness of growing up poor in Robert Putnam’s America."

Other Links: 1. "Chapter 1 (Thinking about Social Change in America) in Bowling Alone, The Collapse and Revival of American Community."
2. "‘Our Kids,’ by Robert D. Putnam."
3. "Rust Belt Landscapes and Memory."
4. "bowling with strangers: emerging patterns of desegregation foretell a vibrant economy."

Postscript: When a suburban brat leaves home to attend an elite university that lands her a job in a global city, she gains social skills that will make her rich. She learns how to connect with people from different corners of the planet, thus facilitating knowledge exchange with places very different from her hometown cul-de-sac. She thrives in a world low on social capital.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Global London and the Geography of Prosperity

Globalization appears to be tearing apart Britain. Second-tier cities must find their inner London and pull the country back together.

Theme: Globalization and economic development

Subject Article: "Disunited Kingdom: London in a world of its own."

Other Links: 1. "Pay gap between London and rest of UK narrows."
2. "Manchester: UK’s new order? The city’s extraordinary resurgence is the best model for closing the north-south economic divide."

Postscript: For me, globalization is all about the Rust Belt. The typical narrative blames globalization for the decline of manufacturing. The Rust Belt is the Rust Belt because globalization avoided the region. Where you find poverty, you won't find globalization.

Monday, March 02, 2015

A Great Migration Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

While migration leads to greater wealth, the destination may shorten your life.

Theme: People develop, not places

Subject Article: "African Americans who fled the South during Great Migration led shorter lives, study finds: Scholars find blacks' health suffered, despite economic benefits of move."

Other Links: 1. "Why aren’t blacks migrating like they used to?"
2. "How Oregon's Second Largest City Vanished in a Day: A 1948 flood washed away the WWII housing project Vanport—but its history still informs Portland's diversity."
3. "Retro Indy: Indiana Avenue."
4. "Will Boston’s crazy snowfalls make people leave? An endless winter has everyone threatening to flee for good. Who might really go—and how it could shift the population."

Postscript: Hinting at my next post, from "The Next Great Migration":

Certainly not everyone can just pick up and go, nor is expatriation a panacea for all that afflicts black America. But at a time when middle-class blacks remain unemployed at twice the rate of whites, and black college graduates have the same chance of being hired as high school-educated whites, the economic case for staying put is not airtight.

One solution would be to increase applications by black students to foreign undergraduate and graduate programs. Years ago, I worked briefly as a consultant for Sciences-Po, one of Paris’s famed grandes écoles, encouraging American high school students and their parents to pursue an English-language education abroad. Sciences-Po was an attractive offer for anyone — a world-class degree and alumni network for less than $2,500 a year. It should have been particularly appealing to blacks since, as Bloomberg recently reported, blacks rely far more on student loans and are less likely to pay off debts after graduation. Studying abroad would sharply decrease this burden (my alma mater, Georgetown, now costs a staggering $65,000 a year), and also provide an entree into expansive new job — and marriage — markets, too.

Yet it’s a strategy that is severely underused. I don’t think I convinced a single black student to attend Sciences-Po. And even though 15 percent of American postsecondary students are black, we account for only about 5 percent of those who study abroad. This is a shame.

Emphasis added. Such a lack of geographic mobility portends economic exclusion. I see a strong link between African-American poverty and neighborhood isolation. Inbreeding homophily, as observed in immigrant groups, leads to a lack of labor market knowledge. The ultimate result is structural under-employment and chronic inequality.