[OPE] Richard Florida on the Talentopolis: they go where the money is

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Wed Jul 15 2009 - 10:13:18 EDT

Today a highly significant demographic realignment is at work: the mass
relocation of highly skilled, highly educated, and highly paid people to a
relatively small number of metropolitan regions, and a corresponding exodus
of traditional lower- and middle-class people from those same places. Such
geographic sorting of people by economic potential, on this scale, is
unprecedented. I call it simply the means migration.

The means migration can be seen most clearly in the increasing geographic
concentration of college graduates. According to research by Harvard
University's Edward Glaeser and the University of Chicago's Christopher
Berry, in 1970 human capital was distributed relatively evenly across the
United States. Nationally, 11 percent of the population that was more than
25 years old had a college degree, and that figure ranged between 9 and 13
percent in fully half of America's 318 metropolitan regions. At the low end
of the spectrum, only 4 percent of adults in Cleveland had a college degree;
Detroit and St. Louis did only slightly better, at 6 percent each. At the
high of the spectrum, 17 percent of adults in San Francisco had college
degrees, though Washington, DC, claimed first place with 18 percent.

During the past three decades, the percentage of Americans holding a college
degree has more than doubled, reaching 27 percent by 2004. But those gains
have not been evenly spread. For instance, more than half of all residents
in the San Francisco region now have college degrees. And there are five
regions nationwide where more than 45 percent of adults have graduated from
college. The national share of adults with college educations has doubled,
but regions like Detroit and Cleveland perform the same as or only slightly
better than they did three decades ago-11 percent and 4 percent,

The means migration can also be seen in regional differences in income. The
past decade or two has seen a dramatic movement and concentration of
high-income households in the means metros. In 2006 the mean household
income was $80,638 in San Jose, California, and $78,978 in Washington, DC;
by comparison, New Orleans and Oklahoma City each boast just about $50,000.
What's behind this phenomenon? It's not just that people prefer to live in
means metros. To be sure, many of them are aesthetically pleasing-beautiful,
energizing, and fun to live in-but they can also be cramped, dense, and

There is a deeper, more fundamental reason, rooted in economics.
Increasingly, the most talented and ambitious people need to live in the
means metros in order to realize their full economic value. The physical
proximity of talented, highly educated people has a powerful effect on
innovation and economic growth. Places that bring together diverse talent
accelerate the local rate of economic evolution. When large numbers of
entrepreneurs, financiers, engineers, designers, and other smart, creative
people are constantly bumping into one another inside and outside of work,
business ideas are formed, sharpened, executed, and-if successful-expanded.
The more smart people, and the denser the connections between them, the
faster it all goes. It is the multiplier effect of the clustering force at

Complete article:

This article is excerpted from Florida's recent book Who's Your City? How
the Creative Economy Is Making Where You Live the Most Important Decision of
Your Life.

(For Europe see e.g.
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118970802/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 )

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