European demography, economy, and identity…and neo-druid communitarianism

by Ryan Streeter on September 28, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

This is the best line I’ve read this week: “Outside of some vaguely anti-American, neo-druid communitarianism among some, there’s not much holding Europeans together.”

That’s Joel Kotkin on Europe’s woes in his latest Forbes article.

He makes that point after citing familiar demographic and economic sources of Europe’s problems, such as this:

Europe’s poor economy stems in large part from policy. The strong welfare state so admired by progressives here has also made Europe a very expensive place to do business. High taxes and welfare costs, long tolerable in an efficient economy like Germany, have a way of catching up with companies and countries. This has been particularly notable after the financial crisis; since 2008 the unemployment rate has shot up 5 percentage points while dropping steadily in the Untied States.

But, Kotkin speculates, maybe it’s not just demography and economy that is holding Europe back.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to Europe is not demographics, economics or energy, but one of identity.

On the multi-lingual, multi-cultural continent that is Europe, Kotkin notes, that identity used to be rooted in a common faith. Now that Europe is highly secularized, is there any such thing as a “European identity”? Kotkin thinks not, and believes this is the source of the separatism we see in Europe right now.

It’s an interesting question.

Are there poverty traps or not?

by Ryan Streeter on September 27, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

That’s an interesting question posed by this Economist blog post.  The author, keying off this paper by World Bank economists saying that poverty traps are overblown (contra the arguments made, for instance, by Paul Collier’s popular book The Bottom Billion), says that the answer isn’t clear.

The answer to the question will essentially explain how to square this chart….

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…with this one:

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by Ryan Streeter on September 25, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Not sure if anyone really uses that word in Germany, but it’s what comes to mind while looking at the exceptional level of satisfaction Germans have about their economy compared to other developed nations, via Pew.

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Falling marriage rates and employability of men

by Ryan Streeter on September 25, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

After decades of declining marriage rates and changes in family structure, the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high. In 2012, one-in-five adults ages 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married.

That’s from a Pew survey released yesterday. Here are the trend lines:

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The survey also shows that 78% of never-married women say “a steady job” is very important when considering a potential spouse. The falling labor force participation rate of young men is thus tied up with the falling marriage rate:

Among never-married adults ages 25 to 34, the number of employed men per 100 women dropped from 139 in 1960 to 91 in 2012, despite the fact that men in this age group outnumber young women in absolute numbers. In other words, if all never-married young women in 2012 wanted to find a young employed man who had also never been married, 9% of them would fail, simply because there are not enough men in the target group. Five decades ago, never-married young women had a much larger pool of potential spouses from which to choose.

Kid centers: Austin TX and Las Vegas NV are among the top kid-friendly cities in America

by Ryan Streeter on September 15, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

I’ve long thought a good indicator of a city’s well-being is the share of children who live there. I’ve even applied that thought to both sides of the Atlantic. Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox have ranked America’s largest 52 metro areas by how much they have grown their youth population.

One might not think that Austin, the epicenter of new-tech and music and food, would appeal to people with kids, but it’s #2 on the list. And, perhaps more surprising, Sin City is #3.

The well-worth-your-while read is here, and the top ten are as follows:

No. 1: Raleigh, N.C. MSA

Rise In No. Of Children Aged 5-14, 2000-13: 55.7%

No. Of Children Aged 5-14, 2013: 177,886

Percentage Of Children Aged 5-14 In Total Population, 2013: 14.6%

No. 2: Austin, Texas

Rise In No. Of Children Aged 5-14, 2000-13: 49.3%

No. Of Children Aged 5-14, 2013: 261,199

Percentage Of Children Aged 5-14 In Total Population, 2013: 13.9%

No. 3: Las Vegas

Rise In No. Of Children Aged 5-14, 2000-13: 39.0%

No. Of Children Aged 5-14, 2013: 275,663

Percentage Of Children Aged 5-14 In Total Population, 2013: 13.6%

No. 4: Charlotte, N.C.

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 32.9%

No. Of Children, 2013: 331,956

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 14.2%

No. 5: Phoenix, Ariz.

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 29.3%

No. Of Children, 2013: 633,123

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 14.4%

No. 6: Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 28.2%

No. Of Children, 2013: 1.05 million

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 15.4%

No. 7: Atlanta, Ga.

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 26.1%

No. Of Children, 2013: 808,811

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 14.6%

No. 8: Houston, Texas

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 25.8%

No. Of Children, 2013: 965,259

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 15.3%

No. 9: Nashville, Tenn.

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 22.7%

No. Of Children, 2013: 237,119

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 13.5%

No. 10: Orlando, Fla.

Rise In No. Of Children, 2000-13: 22.6%

No. Of Children, 2013: 288,091

Percentage Of Children In Total Population, 2013: 12.7%

College bubble update: On the positive effects of career and technical education

by Ryan Streeter on September 7, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Here’s another interesting reference in the study I cited in my last post. It shows the positive relationship between CTE and earnings and family formation. This subject, in my view, receives far too little attention from policymakers.

A recent randomized evaluation of Career Academies—a career- oriented high school program that provides small learning communities, emphasis on career paths, and internship opportunities for disadvantaged high school students—lends additional credence to the potential causal link between male earnings capacity and marriage rates. Eight years after students graduated from high school, males who participated in Career Academies due to the experiment were earning on average $361 more per month and were employed almost three months more per year than males who were experimentally assigned to traditional high school programs. Equally remarkable were the differences among Career Academy participants and non-participants in measures of family formation: male participants were 33% more likely to be married and living with their spouse, 30% more likely to be living with their partner and children, and 35% more likely to be the custodial parent of their children.

There are promising alternatives to a 4-year college degree for a large number of Americans, but to date, our policies surrounding these programs and opportunities are unclear, uncoordinated, and largely neglected by elected officials.

That’s why, for instance, Mike Pence has been spending so much time on this issue.

Male earnings and employability and marriage: a self-reinforcing downward spiral

by Ryan Streeter on September 7, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

I was reminded of the Autor-Wasserman “Wayward Sons” study (pdf) when Thomas Edsall referred to it in this column last week. There are some pretty interesting and sobering charts in the study, which I’ll put below with no commentary other than this snippet from the study:

Less-educated males are far less likely than highly-educated males to marry, but they are not less likely to have children. Due to their low marriage rates and low earnings capacity, children of less-educated males face comparatively low odds of living in economically secure households with two parents present. In general, children born into such households face poorer educational and earnings prospects over the long term. Ironically, males born into low-income single-parent headed households—which, in the vast majority of cases are female-headed households—appear to fare particularly poorly on numerous social and educational outcomes. Thus, the poor economic prospects of less-educated males may create differentially large disadvantages for their sons, potentially reinforcing the development of the gender gap in the next generation.

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Read the rest of this article »

The rise of the megacity

by Ryan Streeter on August 28, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Any adult alive today has lived through a historic shift that has occurred without much fanfare: the movement to a majority-urban global population.

In 1800 only 5% of the world’s population lived in cities, and only one city – Beijing – had more than 1 million people.

What’s especially amazing is the rapid rise of the megacity, defined as a city with more than 10 million residents. In this interesting study by Kotkin, Cox, Modarres, and Renn, we learn:

Until recent decades there were only three (megacities) — Tokyo and New York, joined by a third, Mexico City, only in 1975. Now the megacity has become a global phenomenon that has dispersed around the planet. There were 29 such cities in 2014 and now account for roughly 13% of the world’s urban population and 7% of the world’s total population.

Which states have attracted the most migrants over the past generation?

by Ryan Streeter on August 27, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Here’s another interesting post on the theme of migration’s demographic and political  effects.

The following two maps show both the percentage of native-born residents in a state and the regions from which the migrants to a respective state have come. A lot of states are pretty stable over time in terms of the share of native-born vs. migrant residents. But there are some exceptions. Look at California and Texas, for instance.

Here is America in 1950:

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And here is America in 2012:

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Whereas most midwestern states have been pretty stable, California has seen its native-born population grow by 18 percentage points, while Texas has seen its share drop by 15 points. Georgia has dropped by a remarkable 30 points.

A less dynamic economy and its effect on younger workers

by Ryan Streeter on August 27, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

There is less churn in our economy, which is concerning:

Many factors contributed to reduced fluidity: a shift to older firms and establishments, an aging workforce, the transformation of business models and supply chains (as in the retail sector), the impact of the information revolution on hiring practices, and several policy-related developments.

The problem is this:

The loss of labor market fluidity suggests the U.S. economy became less dynamic and responsive in recent decades…These developments raise concerns about productivity growth, which has close links to factor reallocation in prominent theories of innovation and growth and in many empirical studies. The high-tech sector’s sharp drop-off in business entry rates and in the incidence of fast-growing young firms after 2000 reinforces this concern…Our econometric evidence supports the hypothesis that reduced fluidity lowers employment rates, especially for younger and less educated workers.

That’s from a paper by Steven Davis and John Haltiwanger, via Jim Pethokoukis.