FALL OF THE CREATIVE CLASS
Volohk’er Tyler Cowen notes some serious holes in Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class. Kevin Drum and I had an interesting discussion on this topic last fall (see posts here and here.*)
It turns out that the correlation between a city’s economic growth and its support for a bohemian culture is actually negative.
[S]ince 1993, cities that score the best on Florida’s analysis have actually grown no faster than the overall U.S. jobs economy, increasing their employment base by only slightly more than 17 percent. Florida’s indexes, in fact, are such poor predictors of economic performance that his top cities haven’t even outperformed his bottom ones. Led by big percentage gains in Las Vegas (the fastest-growing local economy in the nation) as well as in Oklahoma City and Memphis, Florida’s ten least creative cities turn out to be jobs powerhouses, adding more than 19 percent to their job totals since 1993–faster growth even than the national economy.”
Interesting. If I had to hazard a guess–and it is just that–I’d say that two things are at work here. First, I’ve maintained from the beginning that the causal trends here are reversed: an affluent, vibrant economy tends to create tolerant, open-minded citizens. Second, there would have to be some regression to the mean here. It’s a lot easier to have a high rate of growth from a low base than a high one, so it’s hardly surprising that Memphis and Oklahoma City would grow faster than Seattle and Silicon Valley.
*Note: Kevin’s archives have apparently been rebuilt, as neither of the links from within those posts of mine to his posts actually lead to them at the moment.