Posts Tagged ‘The Economist’

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Wed Jan 6th 2010 at 9:11am UTC

Are Women Taking Over the Workplace?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010


From The Economist, December 30, 2009:

The rich world’s quiet revolution: women are gradually taking over the workplace

At a time when the world is short of causes for celebration, here is a candidate: within the next few months women will cross the 50 percent threshold and become the majority of the American workforce. Women already make up the majority of university graduates in the OECD countries and the majority of professional workers in several rich countries, including the United States. Women run many of the world’s great companies, from PepsiCo in America to Areva in France.

Women’s economic empowerment is arguably the biggest social change of our times.

From another article in the same issue:

The rich world has seen a growing demand for women’s labor. When brute strength mattered more than brains, men had an inherent advantage. Now that brainpower has triumphed the two sexes are more evenly matched. The feminization of the workforce has been driven by the relentless rise of the service sector (where women can compete as well as men) and the equally relentless decline of manufacturing (where they could not). The landmark book in the rise of feminism was arguably not Ms Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” but Daniel Bell’s “The Coming of Post-Industrial Society”.

Or perhaps Rise of the Creative Class is a landmark book for demonstrating why women have increasingly found a fit in the wage-earning world.

Your thoughts?

(Thanks to colleague MW for drawing my attention to the article.)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jun 10th 2009 at 12:05pm UTC

Most Liveable Cities

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Vancouver ranks first, Toronto fourth, Calgary fifth. Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney all make the top 10. Vienna, Helsinki, Geneva, and Zurich round out the top 10. Props to my former hometown Pittsburgh, which topped the list of U.S. cities coming in 29th on the global list. Here are the top and bottom 10 from The Economist.

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon May 25th 2009 at 9:41am UTC

Global Experience and Productivity

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Hiring people with international living experience may become a priority in future creative workplaces. According to recent psychology research reported in The Economist, people who have lived abroad are better problem-solvers than those who have never lived anywhere but in the USA.

[Researchers] presented 155 American business students and 55 foreign ones studying in America with a test used by psychologists as a measure of creativity. Given a candle, some matches and a box of drawing pins, the students were asked to attach the candle to a cardboard wall so that no wax would drip on the floor when the candle was lit. (The solution is to use the box as a candleholder and fix it to the wall with the pins.) They found 60% of students who were either living abroad or had spent some time doing so, solved the problem, whereas only 42% of those who had not lived abroad did so.

A follow-up study with 72 Americans and 36 foreigners explored their creative negotiating skills…. where both negotiators had lived abroad 70% struck a deal …. When neither of the negotiators had lived abroad, none was able to reach a deal.

Just having traveled abroad was apparently not enough to improve a person’s likelihood of solving the problems. Also, the researchers claim they found a way to filter out factors like the possibility that better problem-solvers are the ones more willing to live abroad.

As creative talent remains in short supply, improving the problem-solving skills of employees will be a priority at many companies. If further research in this area continues to support the findings, we may see employers who need a creative workforce – with top problem-solving skills – seeking to hire people with experience living abroad (which, of course, includes immigrants who by definition have done so). A global firm may even offer to give people that experience early in their careers, stationing people outside their home countries.

Or, as another recent Economist article reports, right now some companies are offering jobs to people – next year. What if they helped them to live and volunteer abroad in the meantime? Perhaps paying a small stipend. They’d score the double bonus of securing talent for when the economy rebounds and improving the problem solving skills of that talent.

Have you lived abroad? Do you think it improved your problem-solving skills?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Apr 22nd 2009 at 5:54pm UTC

Mobility and the Reset

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Fewer Americans are moving than at any point in the past six decades (since the Census Bureau started tracking mobility). Fewer than 12 percent (11.9 percent) of Americans moved in 2008 compared to more than 20 percent in 1984-85. This is the result of the economic crisis and the housing slump which has essentially locked Americans in place. Brookings Institution demographer William Frey told the The New York Times:

“It represents a perfect storm halting migration at all levels, since it involves deterrents in local housing-related moves and longer distance employment-related moves. … [T]he U.S. population, often thought of as the most mobile in the developed world, seems to have been stopped dead in its tracks due to a confluence of constraints posed by a tough economic spell.”

The Economist makes much the same point arguing that housing has turned from “shelter” to “burden” – noting that “the social benefits of home ownership look more modest than they did and the economic costs much higher.”

The Census Bureau also reports that foreign immigration to America is down to its lowest point in more than a decade. Quite a devastating double whammy for the U.S. economy which draws considerable strength from labor mobility and inflows of foreign talent.

Economic recovery will turn on restoring both.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Mar 31st 2009 at 3:48pm UTC

Housing Crisis Goes Global

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The housing crisis has spread globally according to data from The Economist.

Source: The Economist.

Housing prices were down the most in the United States (nearly 20 percent), but substantial declines have also occurred in Britain and Hong Kong – two countries with large and dominant financial sectors. Prices were also down significantly in Ireland, New Zeland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Singapore. Prices have held up in Switzerland, Italy, and France, according to this data.

The second graph charts the trend in commercial real estate.

Source: The Economist.

Commercial office rents fell by 41 percent in London and 25 percent in Mumbai and Sydney. Office rents were off by more than 5 percent in New York, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, and Sao Paolo. Rents were up in Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing, and Dubai.


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Dec 24th 2008 at 9:28am UTC

If You Build It…

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

How do you remake a city of sprawl. That’s exactly what the city of Mesa, Arizona is trying to do, according to The Economist. Mesa has experienced tremendous growth in the past several decades, surging from 7,000 in 1940) to roughly 450,000 today. While many people still haven’t heard of it, Mesa numbers among the nation’s 50 largest cities, bigger than Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Miami. It’s a classic “edge city” which, as The Economist writes, consists of: “Mile after mile of strip malls and tract houses, whose evocative names and fanciful architecture cannot disguise the fact that they are large, stucco-covered boxes, dominate the landscape.”

Now Mesa is working hard to turn itself into a more liveable city. To bolster its economy, it’s constructing a new airport downtown (to better connect itself to the world – recall the Phoenix-Tuscon area is one of the world ’s 40 biggest mega-regions) in an effort to remake itself as what University of North Carolina’s John Kasarda calls an “aerotropolis” – the thinking being that air transport today is analogous to what canals, railroads, and cars were to past urban systems. Even more interesting is the city is investing heavily in improving its quality of place – urban design, mixed use development, strict building heights, increased density, warehouse conversions, and an extensive network of urban neighborhood parks in an effort to improve its ability to lure talent and jobs.

Read more here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Nov 13th 2008 at 12:02pm UTC

Lumpy World

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The Economist reports on new World Bank research on the economic power of urbanization and of cities:

[N]ew research published by the World Bank in its annual flagship World Development Report suggests that pessimism over the future of huge cities is wildly overdone. The bank argues that third-world cities grow so big and so fast precisely because they generate vast economic advantages, and that these gains may be increasing. Slowing urbanization down, or pushing it towards places not linked with world markets, is costly and futile, the bank says. At a time of contagion and bail-outs, the research also reaffirms the unfashionable view that the basic facts of geography – where people live and work, how they get around – matter as much as financial and fiscal policies…

So one answer to the question – why are third-world cities so big? – is that they are not in relative terms all that large. But another answer, suggests the World Bank, is that they are big because they do an economic job that is becoming more, not less, important…

Cheap transport in the past 25 years has produced a second sort of trade revolution. Countries now sell each other not final products like port but intermediate ones such as recording heads for hard drives. That has been made possible by an extraordinary fragmentation of production: every step in the production line is broken down. Parts are made separately, then shipped for assembly.

In some ways, this specialization and concentration of manufacturing seems strange: if parts can be made anywhere, it might appear more efficient to make them in the middle of nowhere, where land is cheapest. Yet factory owners like to cluster together because of the concentration of skills, as well as infrastructure, that cities offer. Workers with particular competences migrate to places where those skills are in demand – and all the businesses that need those skills benefit. Consumers, naturally, appreciate cities because it is easier to shop where goods are available in one place. And business services (banking, insurance, consultancy) cluster round the honeypot…

For poor countries, the key to development is to link up flagging and fast-growing regions. To do that, governments often overemphasize policies targeted on particular places. In practice, there are more powerful instruments of integration than “spatially targeted” efforts – e.g., land markets that unify all places, or infrastructure that connects some places to others. Growth, says the bank, is inevitably lumpy. Governments must learn to like it.

The full report is here.