Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Urbanization Without Growth?


GCI Insight Southeast Asia
Hello Everyone:

Today we are going to travel from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Southeast Asia for a look at how urbanization is driving the region's economies.  In his CityLab article, "Does Urbanization Drive Southeast Asia's Development?" Richard Florida writes, "For those of us who live in the United States or in the advanced nations of Europe or Asia, urbanization has gone hand in hand with greater economic development, and the growth of the middle class."  However, in other parts of the world, the link between urbanization and increased living standards has been disintegrating over the past decade.  Mr. Florida points out "The world may be entering into a troubling new phase of urbanization without growth.". (http://www.citylab.com; 06/12/15; date accessed Feb. 28, 2017).  This is a situation where urbanization no longer leads to increased economic output, higher living standards, or a large middle class.

Map of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia-see map at the left-is currently undergoing rapid urbanization.  Mr. Florida reports, "By 2030, its urban population will grow by another 100 million people, rising from 280 million people today to 373 million people."

A new study, The Rise of the Urban Creative Class in Southeast Asia (http://www.martinprosperity.org; 01/18/17; date accessed Feb. 28, 2017), focuses on urbanization in six major Southeast Asian nations and the cities of Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and city-state of Singapore.

"Metropolitan Economic Output per Person in Southeast Asia"
Martin Prosperity Institute/Data from Brooking Institute
2014 Global Metro Monitor
Two of the study cities, Manila and Jakarta, are megacities with populations of over 10 million people.  Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are populated with five to 10 million people.  By 2030, the populations of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City are projected to grow to over ten million, Kuala Lumpur will increase to nearly 10 million people, and Singapore will grow to seven million.  Mr. Florida reports, "The region provides an intriguing lens from which to better understand the opportunities and challenges of urbanization today."

The Martin Prosperity Institute's analysis accentuates the "...highly uneven process of urbanization across this region, as its cities and nations divide across four broad tiers of development."

If you look at the graph on the lower left-hand-side, charting the economic output person, focusing on the cities in bold face.  At the top of list is Singapore with an economic output of $66,864 person, making it the most prosperous and advanced cities in the world, right behind New York and just ahead of Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong.  The city-state ranks "...as the fourth-most-advanced global city in the world, behind only New York, London, and Tokyo."  Singapore's creative class compose nearly half of the workforce (47.3 percent)-significantly greater than that of the United States (32.6 percent).

"The Global City Index"
Sources:  Brooking Institute 2014 Global Metro Monitor
Z/Yen Group Global Financial Centres Index 15;
A.T. Kearney's 2014 Global Cities Index;
The Economist's Hot Spots 2025 (Martin Prosperity Institute)
The graphic on the left illustrates "The Global City Index."  Singapore is ranked fourth, behind New York and Tokyo.  Moving down the the graph, we notice the Kuala Lumpur is positioned in the second tier, with an economic out of $28,076 per person, greater than Shanghai ($24,065) and Beijing ($23, 390).  Despite its second tier status, Kuala Lumpur's economic output per person is nearly three times greater than Malaysia overall ($9,7748).  The city also outpaces Stuttgart, Germany ($158 million); Stockholm, Sweden ($143 million); generating over half (50.8 percent) of the nation's gross domestic product.  According to the MPI "urban productivity ratio" which weighs a city's productivity against that of its host nation, "Kuala Lumpur is three times as productive as Malaysia."  Richard Florida adds, "It ranks 39th on my Global City ranking, not too far behind Beijing."

Bangkok, Thailand and Manila, Philippines are ranked as third tier cities, with economic output per person of $19,705 and $14,222 respectively-far greater than Thailand ($5,158) and the Philippines ($2,360) overall.  Mr. Florida writes, "Bangkok's economic output is $307 billion-more than Miami ($263 billion) or Frankfurt ($230 billion), and accounts for more than three quarters of Thailand's total GDP."  Manila creates $183 billion in economic output-greater than Stockholm ((143 billion). and comprises nearly two-third of the country's total GDP.  Interestingly, the Thai capitol is more productive than the nation overall, and the Philippine capitol is six times more productive than the island archipelago.

Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are ranked as fourth tier cities with economic output per person of $9,984 and $8,660-although lower than the other study Southeast Asian cities is still significantly larger than for Indonesia ($3,323) and Vietnam (($1,544).  Jakarta's total economic output-$321 billion-is greater than Toronto, Canada ($276 billion),  Ho Chi Minh City's economic output ($71 billion) is just smaller than Turin, Italy ($78 billion) and Oslo, Norway ($74 billion).  In both cases, they account for over 35 percent of their national economies.  Mr. Florida reports, "Productivity in Jakarta is three times higher than for Indonesia as a whole, while it is 5.6 time higher in Ho Chi Minh City than for the Vietnamese economy."

"Economic output per person"
Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators, GDP Per Capita 2010-12
Urbanization:  World Bank, World Development Indicators, Urban Population 2010-12
(Martin Prosperity Institute)
Richard Florida poses this question, "So is urbanization helping to propel economic growth in Southeast Asia or not?  The answer from our research is a qualified yes."

Take a look at the graph on the left-hand side.  It maps the relationship between the rate of urbanization and economic development (gauged as economic output per person).  Mr. Florida writes, "The slope of the line is upward and to the right, highlighting the generally positive relationship between the two."  The important point   is Southeast Asian nations fall either right on the line or just above it-indicating that their level of urbanization is about in line with their rate of economic development.

Singapore is the regional leader in urbanization and economic development with levels that place on par with the United States, Japan, Canada, and Australia.  Malaysia is second with a 75 percent urbanization level, ebbing closer to South Korea.  Indonesia and Thailand are over 50 percent urbanized; the Philippines is nearly 45 percent urbanized.  All three have urbanization levels close to that of China.  Vietnam's urbanization rate is 33.6 percent, just slightly ahead of India and Cambodia's rate of urbanization is 20.7 percent-"...still both have levels of urbanization that are roughly in line with their level with their levels of economic development."

What we can conclude from The Rise of the Urban Creative Class in Southeast Asia is that economic development across the Southeast Asian region and its cities is very uneven, "...mirroring the broader pattern of uneven development between the advanced nations and cities of the Global North and the struggling nations and cities of the Global South."  The region is varied-from the affluent and most urbanized Singapore to Cambodia, where economic output is merely $869 per person, placing it 116th among the 139 nations studied by the Martin Prosperity Institute.

Although some parts of Southeast Asia are urbanized and developed, others still have not made the leap.  The main question is "...whether urbanized can continue to propel economic development in the region's less developed cities and nations, or whether some will fall victim to urbanization without growth."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Incremental Change


Saudi women walking by two men on a motorcycle
pri.org; lifehacklane.com
Hello Everyone:

New week, new topics to talk about.  Today we are going to return to the subject of women and  transportation.  The focus is Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia is the sole country in the world that does not issue driver's licenses to women.  The irony here is Saudi women are allowed to own cars and do drive in the rural areas.  However, in cities such as Jeddah and Riyadh, women are required to have a male relative or foreign-born worker drive them where they need, in their own cars.  Mimi Kirk's CityLab article, "What Riyadh's New Metro Will for Women," reports on the impact the Kingdom's new metro will have on female mobility.  Will the prospect of increased mobility mean greater educational and employment opportunities?  Shall we find out?

For the past few years, Uber and similar ride sharing services began operating in the Kingdom.  Ms. Kirk reports, "Uber reports that 80 percents of its users in the country are women.  But to some, the arrangement feels exploitive, since are a captive market."  Hatton al-Fassi, an academic at Qatar University told Ms. Kirk,

[Uber] shows the ugly practice of using women's suffering to make money.

How did the Saudi women respond?

A year ago, the Kingdom invest "$3.5 billion in Uber...Saudi women were incensed," to say the least.  The women were furious over feeling ...cash cows for transport companies protested on social media.  They posted pictures on social media, deleting ride sharing apps from their phones, and tweeting boycott announcement.

Women's metro cabin in Dubai
In the near future, an alternative, less anger-inducing means transportation will be available to  urban Saudi women.  Mimi Kirk writes, "The High Commission for Development of Riyadh is implementing a six-line metro system and accompanying bus network."  The project is half finished and is expected to be operational by 2019.  Business Insider reported on May 20, 2016,

"...the biggest urban mass-transit system that's ever been created from scratch." (http//www.businessinsider.com; date accessed Feb. 27, 2017).  Underground and bus lines are also planned for such cities as: Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina.

Saudi women shopping
Planner of Riyadh's metro are anticipating over a million riders, out of the city's population of 7 million residents.  Nearly half of Riyadhis are women (3 million to be more precise), Ms. Kirk writes, "...a significant number are liable to employ the service.  The anticipated one million riders is expected to increase to 3.5 million after a decade.  A female university student told Reuters,

It will be a major solution for women.

Naturally.  This will mean that women will longer have to be held hostage to a ride sharing app, rely on a male relative or foreign-born worker to drive them around.  This can open up the potential of greater opportunities for women in the public sphere.

Riyadh street view
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian underground project comes with additional benefits.  First, it can potentially lessen the nation's dependence on oil and oil revenue by encouraging less driving and increasing foreign investment.  Of course, the undergrounds will be outfitted with a variety of amenities.  For example, late-architect Zaha Hadid's firm has been commissioned to design an ultra-modern station in Riyadh's financial district.  The station will be equipped with driverless trains, Wi-Fi, air conditioning (a necessity), and solar panels that will provide 20 percent of the system's power.

However, it is women that will reap the primary benefit.  Ms. Kirk writes, "The trains will have cars for exclusive use by single women and families, helping to maintain the segregation of the sexes and providing a reliable, socially acceptable way to travel.  (A promotion video created by the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh...shows women matter-of-factly taking envisioned trains and buses.)"  You can see this video at http://www.saudi.gov.sa.  Hiring drivers or summing an Uber driver can be cost prohibitive, the a mass transportation system provides a more feasible option for women of lesser means.

Saudi women
Mimi Kirk ponders, "The question remains whether alternatives to driving, such as Uber or the metro, hinder the campaign to allow women behind the wheel."  Saudi women's rights activists have been organizing groups of women driving their cars in defiance of local authorities and producing music videos that comment on the ridiculousness of forbidding women drivers.  Hatoon al-Fassi is optimistic about the possibility of change.  For the past 25 years, there only have been whispers of women being granted driver's licenses. Ms. al-Fassi told Ms. Kirk,

Until a new policy is put in place, we will put on the pressure as much as possible.

In the interim, Ms. al-Fassi believes that mass transportation will be a welcome service.  She continued,

The new metro and bus systems will show how much and how long women have lived in unjust conditions...They will make women's lives more humane, dignified, and affordable.

In the West, we take our driver's licenses for granted.  Getting a license is a right of passage, something to be celebrated.  We tend to forget that there are parts of the world where women are not permitted to drive.  They are forced to dependent on a male relative or foreign-born worker to chauffeur them around town.  The introduction of a mass transportation system in Saudi Arabia opens the potential of making women, regardless of socio-economic status, more upwardly mobile.  We have to remember that change in a very conservative country, like Saudi Arabia, happens incrementally.  Mass transportation is part of the incremental change.  Once it opens, it will being fascinating to watch what happens.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: What Does Suburbia Think Of President Trump?


President Trump at a campaign-style rally in Florida
the hill.com
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  We are just a little over a month into the presidency of Donald Trump and it has been a chaotic month, to say the utmost least.  Witness the raucous town hall meetings conducted by Republican members of The House of Representatives and The Senate.  The meetings have gotten rowdy to the point where some members have either cancelled the event or asked for additional security.  These cacophonous meetings are just for the camera, rather they are a manifestation of suburban anxiety over President Trump.

President Trump at his inauguration
 Without a doubt President Trump has become one of the polarizing figures in suburban America.  For example, take that ill-conceived and poorly implemented executive order that banned travelers and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations.  Do we call it a "Muslim ban" or the softer "travel ban?"  Suburbia cannot make up its mind: "...52 percent say it's a Muslim ban, 47 percent say it isn't." A recent CNN/ORC poll 50 percent responded positively to the ban and the remaining 50 percent cannot support it.  The suburban split over POTUS is a situation that Kriston Capps ponders in his CityLab article "The Suburbs Are Split Over Donald Trump."

POTUS job approval ratings
After his fractious opening weeks in office, conservatives resoundingly love what POTUS is doing, while liberals are counting the days until he is out of office.  Mr. Capps writes, "Rural and urban align with conservative and liberal views."  Blogger is not surprised.  "The suburbs, however, are torn down the middle."  Mr. Capps makes this observation about the ideological diversity in suburbia.  He reports, "Suburban residents also think are going better than either their urban or rural counterparts do-whic doesn't quite add up."  How is this possible?

Almost half-49 percent- of suburban respondents are happy with the way POTUS is doing his job, thus far, while the remaining 49 percent disapprove.  This is not to say that the suburbs are neutral on the subjects ("beyond the 2 percent who somehow still have no opinion).  Like their rural and urban counterparts, suburban dwellers have strong feelings for and against POTUS, with very little gray area.  What accounts for this difference is that suburbs are not ideological silos.

Trump transition CNN/ORC poll
The latest CNN/ORC does not accurately define what it means by "suburbs." (http://www.citylab.com/politics/2017/02/the-suburbs-are-split-over-donald-trump/515760/?utm_source=nl_link6_020917).   Kriston Capps reports, "The poll's methodology reference the Census: All respondents were asked questions concerning basic demographics, and the entire sample was weighted to reflect national Census figures for gender, race, age, education, reign of country, and telephone usage."  The American Housing Survey (http://www.census.gov) assigned codes for two types of suburbs: urban and rural suburbs.  Good but "...it's doubtful that people answering a telephone poll would know offhand their community's official designation one way or the other."

First approval ratings for POTUS: travel ban
In the broadest sense, suburbia is politically contested territory on the questions of security, the economy, and other subjects.  On the topic of healthcare, "46 percent of suburban respondents approve of the work Trump has put in so far, while 44 percent disapprove.  On his handling of terrorism (50 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove) and foreign affair (43/51), the gap in only a bit wider."  By comparison, urban approval for Trump administration policies hovers somewhere in the 30 percent range and disapproval floats around the 60 percent range-the converse is true for rural respondents.

What the Trump border wall might look like
The folly of the proposed wall between Mexico and the United States is only topic that suburbia can come together.  Mr. Capps reports, "...58 percent oppose it, while just 40 percent support."  The wall is not winning fans anywhere.  "While 83 percent of Republican and 71 percent of self-identified conservatives support the wall, they're spread out."  POTUS's border proposal has lukewarm support in rural America, The President's stronghold: "...53 percent in favor and 45 opposed (When respondents were asked about building the wall through import taxes on imported goods from Mexico, support for the wall cratered across the board.)"

Rasmussen poll: Is the United States on the right track?

Kriston Capps observes, "The most interesting result from the poll may be that nobody thinks the country is heading in the right direction except the suburbs."  The numbers break down as follow: "...42 percent of urban respondents think things are going very well or fairly well."  This makes political sense because the majority of urban voters are Democrats and the Blue Team got their collective heads handed to them in the last election.  You would think that rural dwellers would have a more optimistic outlook on the direction of the country, right?  No, "...only 43 percent of them do.  In suburbs, though, 51 percent of respondents think are fine."

Despite the red river that was the 2016 federal election map, geography may spell doom for the Republican party in the future (i.e. the mid-term elections in 2018).  President Trump  has much work to do in order to convince suburbia that life is terrible-high unemployment, the liberal media is covering up terrorist attack-in order to gain support for his divisive policies.  How is he doing so far? President Trump will have to convince American suburbanites that life is terrible not because of Republican party policies.  President Trump clearly enjoys agitating his base, he also needs to to keep them happy.  Given the noisy and angry town hall meetings held by Republican members of Congress, POTUS and the red team are not doing too good a job at keeping the base happy.  Could the Republican party loyalists lose faith in POTUS and Republican incumbents?  The mid-terms are in November 2018 and the Republicans and The President need to work fast, very fast.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton learned the hard way that geography is destiny.  While President Donald Trump may be the apple of the conservative voters's eye, the party he leads still has much work to do to win over their conservative constituents.  If suburbia continues to hold a negative outlook on President Trump, it may bode ill  for down-ballot Republican races at mid-terms and beyond

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Is The Quality Of A Place Important?


Fourth of July fireworks
Hello Everyone:

Before we get started on today's subject about the relevance of quality of place, Blogger just wants to acknowledge that we have reached the 100,000 page view mark.  Woo hoo.  Thank you so very much for your continued support, it really does mean a lot.  What started as simply a "keep busy" project has become something so special.  Yours truly always looks forward to that time of the day, when Blogger can sit down and talk to you about architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design.  Cheers to the first 100,000 and onward to the next 100,000 and so on.

Aerial view of Washington D.C.
Shall we begin?  When you consider moving to a city, what kinds of amenities do you consider?  Museums, parks, historic places?  In a recent article for CityLab, "Why Quality of Place Matters," Richard Florida writes, "For years, cities measured their success in purely economic terms-jobs created, rising incomes and wages, the number of corporate headquarters, or the extent of high-tech industries,"  However, emphasis on the quality of life has entered the place-making conversations in cities throughout the United States.

Cities have invested in amenities such as better parks, more bicycle lanes, arts and cultural venues as a way to attract and keep talent and increase residents's level of happiness.  Mr. Florida writes, "These quality-of-place amenities were once thought of as an afterthought or something that happens after places get rich."  We are now aware that cultural, institutional, and recreational amenities play a primary role in attracting highly-skilled knowledge-based economy workers to the cities, "bringing economic growth with them."

Skeptics have looked askance at these strategies and urged municipalities to concentrate on employment and traditional economic development.  Richard Florida asks, "Can quality-of-place strategies aid in building stronger, more economically vibrant communities, or are they a fad and a waste of money?"

Two recent studies closely examine at the function quality-of-place factors, dissecting their effect on small and medium-size cities; young versus elderly people.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Quality of place in smaller places

Quality of place is usually considered the function of large cities and metropolitan areas.  Conventional wisdom holds, "...simply by virtue of their size, larger places have more to offer."

A recent study, Placemaking as an Economic Development Strategy for Small and Midsize Cities (journals.sagepub.com; accessed Feb. 21, 2017) authored by Janet Kelly, Matt Ruther, Sarah Ehresman, and Bridget Nickerson, provides an empirical analysis of the impact of quality of place determinants on small and medium-sized metropolitans (250,000 to 500,000 inhabitants) and 83 mid-range metropolitans (500,000 to 2.5 million residents).

The study focused on 23 elements of quality of place-not only cultural amenities, but also important quality-of-life-measures: crime rates and housing costs; population indicators: diversity or university matriculation.  The study divides the elements into six primary quality-of-place determinants: crime rates, entertainment, density, diversity, housing, and knowledge workers.

Culpepper, Virginia
The study followed these components from 2000 to 2013, looking at the impact in three primary results: overall change in the population aged 25 and older, the number of adults with a university degree, and the size of the university-educated population between 25 and 34 years-old.

Mr. Florida writes, "Overall, the authors find that quality of plays a bigger role in medium-sized metros than in small ones.  For medium-sized metros, the quality-of-place variable explained between 38 percent and 58 percent of the variance in outcomes."

That aside, the situation changes when it comes attracting university-educated adults.  Here, both small and medium-sized metropolitans reap the benefits from greater density; the latter metropolitan also experienced significant benefits from greater entertainment options and lower crime rates,  Greater density, in medium-sized metropolitans, was a magnet for university-educated adults.  Mr. Florida notes, "Surprisingly, for both small and medium-sized metros, density was negatively associated with overall with population growth."

Portland, Oregon
Even more surprising and counterintuitive was the conclusion that a large concentration concentration  knowledge-based worker is "...negatively associated with the ability to attract young college-educated people in both small and medium-sized metros."  This result, the study noted, "...may reflect the simple fact that such metro already have high levels of college-educated young people and thus have experienced small rates of growth of them."

Overall larger population increase in mid- to small-cities in the southern and western metropolitans, compared to the Northeast and Midwest's greater share of university-educated residents, uncovers a key element to successful talent magnets.  It infers that amenities do make a difference as an attraction for young talent to non-boldfaced cities.  For this demographic group, "...amenities inform moving decisions nearly as much as low crime rates or housing availability."

Madison, Wisconsin capitol building
Quality of place and happiness across age groups

A second study, Happiness and health across the lifespan in five major cities: The impact of place and government performance by Michael J. Hogan, Kevin M. Leyden,...Phoebe E. McKenna-Plumley (http://www,sciencedirect.com; date accessed Feb. 21, 2017) studies the link between quality of place and happiness.  This 2007 study is based on a survey of 5000 people between the ages of 25 and 85 in the cities of New York, Toronto, London, Paris, and Berlin.  The survey posed questions regarding happiness and the level of quality of place that are considered to to effect it-availability of and access to good schools, parks, quality healthcare, transportation, retail, entertainment and cultural amenities.  The survey inquired about safety, employment, income, marriage and family status, health, and so on.

This study concentrated on the impact of quality of place determinants on the happiness of four demographic groups: "'young (ages 25 to 34),' 'young middle age (35 to 49),' 'older middle aged (50 to 64),' 'older (65 to 85).'"  The study carefully brought out the effects of place-based factors like: entertainment and cultural amenities versus performance elements such as overall quality of government services.

"Critical ratios (z-scores) for the path coefficients between place,
performance, and happiness across different age groups
(Andrew Small/CityLab/Data from Hogan et al.0
The chart on the left compares the ratios for the amount of place-based variables (performance variables) affected happiness the four study groups.

What we find is "While quality-of-place factors matter for all for all four age groups, they matter much more for younger people."  The study noted

the happiness of younger residents is a function of having easy access to cultural, shopping, transport, parks and sport amenities and the attractiveness of their cities.

Older residents's level of happiness is correlated with their attitude toward government performances on issues such as: education, healthcare, and safety.

Additionally, the study concluded "that place and performance variables work together in shaping overall health and the strength of social connections and relations, which are in turn strongly associated with residents' happiness across the board."  To maintain the level of happiness of all surveyed residents, the study concluded, "...cities should focus on providing quality services while also emphasizing access to parks and amenities and bolstering local beauty and character."

Together, both studies spotlight the role of quality of place in cities and communities.  Quality-of-place determinants do matter but different elements have greater importance for different age groups and in cities of various sizes.  Finally, the studies do suggest that quality of place is a useful and important component in drawing talent and creating healthier, happier, and wealthier communities.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Are The United States of America Still Conservative?


President Donald J. Trump
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  President Donald J. Trump's administration is off to flying start.  First there was the controversial, ill conceived travel ban, the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the brewing scandal over just how much contact did Trump campaign staff have with Russia and what they did or did not say.  Blogger said this administration was going to be a wild ride.

For today, we are going to look at the Conservative States of America.  Not one to beat an already dead horse but the 2016 federal election was a real shock to the world-wide system.  Republicans took the White House and both chambers of Congress.  Richard Florida writes in his CityLab article, "The (Still) Conservative States of America," "Today's political map remains dominated by shades of red, indeed, conservatives outnumber liberals in 44 out of 50, according to new polling results, "US Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin," from the Gallup Organization." (http://www.gallup.com)

The states of Wyoming, North Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Alabama rank as the top five most conservative states. Conservatives in these states have a 30 percent advantage.  In the next thirteen states on the list, Conservatives hold a 20 to 30 percent advantage and another fifteen states, Conservatives hold a 10 percent advantage.  Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Washington state rank as the top five Liberal states, where Conservatives are at a numeric disadvantage (California is number 9).  (Ibid)

Ideological map of the United States of America
Taylor Blake
creative class.com
The map on the left, by Taylor Blake of the Martin Prosperity Institute, charts how the states break down according to ideology.  On average, 36 percent of the states  identify identify as Conservative while 25 percent of the states identify as Liberal. (Ibid)

Take a look at the center of the map.  What you will find is "A broad conservative belt cuts across much of the middle of the country, being especially pronounced in the Deep South and Plains."  The remaining firmly liberal pockets are located in the Northeast, the West Coast, Illinois, and Colorado.  The salmon color states (Rust Belt states) that leaned toward POTUS remain split, as do Florida and Alaska.  States that leaned toward former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Delaware, conservatives outnumbered liberals by margins on par with the national average.

United States-Canada border
  Before shell shocked liberals flood the Canadian borders, Mr. Florida offers this caveat: "The difference is not as sharp when we combine moderates and liberals."  According to the Gallup survey 34 percent of Americans identify themselves as moderates, compared to 36 percent who call themselves conservatives and 25 percent who identify as liberal. (Ibid)  Mr. Florida writes, "In fact, the conservative share of the electorate has tracked down somewhat from its peak in the mid-2000s and the liberal share has tracked up a bit."  The survey observes,

Despite the dominance of conservative states, the conservative advantage has decreased within most states with 42 states becoming at least marginally less conservative since 2009.

In total, the number of moderates and liberals outnumber conservatives in 46 states, Wyoming being the outlier, where there are more conservatives than liberals and moderates.  That still does not explain the sea of red across the electoral map.  Let us move on.

"Americans' Political Views by Year"
 The process of self-segregation based on class and ideological has been happening at least a decade.  it is what Bill Bishop described to Mr. Florida, in a 2016 CityLab article "America's 'Big Sort' Is Only Getting Bigger." (http://www.citylab.com)  Mr. Bishop first described this phenomena in 2004 in the book The Big Sort, the untold story of why Americans are culturally and politically divided. (http://www.thebigsort.com)  Mr. Florida writes, "The deep and overlapping cleavages of class and geography-knowledge and density-were the crucial fault lines of the 2016 election."  However, what were the key economic, demographic, and cultural factors that accounts for the conservative streak in the American states?

"Democrats' Political Views Since 2001"
To understand why this is the case, Mr. Florida's colleague Charlotta Mellander conducted a basic correlation analysis  on the Gallup poll numbers, comparing them to political ideology to economic, demographic, and cultural determinants by state.

Once again, Mr. Florida points out, "...I point out that correlations simply reflect associations between variables and do not imply causation."  Taken together with previous finding (2011 and 2012), they accentuate an increasingly red tide across the states and deep divisions of class, income, education, urbanity, and religion.

"Republicans' Political Views Since 2001"
First of all, these political schisms align with actual votes for POTUS and Madame Secretary across the states.  The correlations are: "...conservative identification is positively associated with Trump votes (0.88) and negatively associated with Clinton votes (-0.90), while liberal identification is positively associated with Clinton (0.84) and negatively associated with Trump votes (-0.82)."  No surprise.

Education is a factor in political identification.  "Conservative states are significantly less educated than liberal ones.  There is a strong negative correlation between conservative identification across states and the percent of adults who are college graduates (-0.74)."  This correlation is similar to the one in 2012.  The converse is true for liberals and moderates.  "Education levels across states are positively correlated with liberals (0.69), moderates (.40) and moderates and liberals combined (0.75)."

"U.S, Political Ideology In 2016"
Class is another key determinant of political ideology.  Conservative states strongly  lean working class.  Mr. Florida writes, "Conservative identification across states is positively correlated with the percentage of a state's workforce in blue-collar occupations (0.74).  And it is highly negatively correlated with the proportion of the workforce in knowledge-based professional and creative work (-0.64).  The creative class share of the workforce is positively associated with liberals (0.62) and moderates and liberal combined (0.65), but not significantly associated with moderated by themselves."

"Self-Identified Conservatives, Moderates in U.S. In 2015"
Income was another factor in ideological identification.  Less affluent states tend to skew conservative.  The correlations are: "Conservative political affiliation is negatively correlated with state income levels (-0.64) and economic output (-0.49)."  It is the opposite situation in more affluent states that identify liberal and moderate.  The correlations are: "...Income levels across states are positively correlated with liberals (0.57), moderates (0.32), and moderate and liberals combined (0.62)."

"Top 10 Liberal States"

Another dividing line is urbanity.  States that skew conservative is "...negatively associated with both the share of a state's population that lives in urban areas (-0.37) and the overall urbanization of a states, measured by the urban share of state land area (-0.45)."  Again no surprise.  "Urbanization is positively associated with liberals (0.39), and moderates and liberals combined (0.41), but not significantly associated with moderated by themselves."

"Top 10 Republican States"

"Top 10 MSAs Religiosity"

Religion is another place where conservatives and liberals are split.  The chart below left present the top and bottom ten religious cities.  Richard Florida writes, "Conservative political affiliation across states is highly correlated with religiosity, measured as the share of state population for which religion is a very important component of daily life (0.76)."  Again, the opposite is true for liberal and moderates.  "Religiosity across states is negatively correlated with liberals (-.075), moderates (-0.29). and moderates and liberals combined (-0.78)."

"Composition of Political Parties by Racial, Ethnic, and Ideological Groups"
Another unsurprising fact is conservative states tend to be less diverse,  Mr. Florida, "Conservative political affiliation is highly negatively correlated with the percent of the population that are immigrants (-0.60), or gay and lesbian (-0.68).  Both immigrant and gay and lesbian share of the population are positively associated with liberals (0.50 and 0.73 respectively), and moderates and liberals combined (0.54 and 0.64), but not significant significantly associated with moderates by themselves."

Based on these facts, conservatism is more pronounced in states that are less affluent, educated, and more economic distressed.  In 2011, Richard Florida wrote at the time,

But the much bigger, long-term danger is economic rather than political.  This ideological state of affairs advantages the policy preferences of poorer, less innovative states over wealthier, more innovate, and productive ones.  American politics is increasingly disconnected from its economic engine.  And this deepening political divide has become the biggest bottleneck on the road to long-run prosperity.

President Donald Trump's administration is barely a month and Republicans control both houses of Congress.  The ball is in their court.  While liberals remained clustered in fewer states, conservatism is slow overall decline.  Conservatism has gained an edge in larger sections of the country, particularly in key swing states.  The razor-thin victories in less populated states mean dramatic change.  Even as the nation creeps toward liberalism on the whole, the real question is will the states reflect this trend or remain firmly in the red column?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What Color Is Your Mayor's Tie?


Mayor Bill de Blasio testifying before the Senate Education Committee
Photograph by Mike Groll/AP Photo

Hello Everyone:

The state of inequality in the United States is bad, especially in the major cities.  Just how bad is it?  Richard Florida reports in his CityLab article "How Do Mayors Think About Inequality?", "The inequality of America's metro areas mirrors that of the some of the most unequal nations unearth: New York's is comparable to Swaziland, Los Angeles is comparable to the Dominican Republic, Chicago's comparable to El Salvador..."  Blogger said it was  bad.  Shockingly, the worst cases are in cities, like San Francisco, that the densest, most affluent, and most liberal thinking, where inequality is the highest.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has made inequality and his city's version of tale of two cities front and center of his administration.  However, where do mayors across the United stand on the growing widening gap between rich and poor and what are they doing about it?

New York City street scene

This the question that a recent study of 72 mayors by political scientists Katherine Levine Einstein and David Glick address in Urban Affairs Review. (journals.sagepub.com)  Their survey directly asked the mayors "...about the priority they place on addressing inequality, kinds of redistributive policies and program they are using and prefer, and the trade-offs they make with regard to inequality."

The survey measured this by posing a series of questions:

What are your current top two policy priorities? or In the next year, on what two issues do plan to expend the most political capital?

The survey compared the mayors's answers to their public statement and actual initiatives.

Ms. Levine Einstein and Mr. Glick evaluated these answers and policy position in context to "...political partisanship, strong versus weak mayor systems, population size, taxes, government fragmentation, and economic competitiveness on the priority mayors place on the trade-offs they make to address it."

The proportion of mayors addressing inequality along party lines
Einstein and Glick

Partisanship[ and city some are the biggest predictors of concern about inequality and redistribution

According to one finding, inequality and redistribution are relatively prominent on the mayors's agendas.  Approximately one-fifth of the mayors began some sort of redistributive programs to remedy inequality, and about 30 percent of the respondents made any public state about supporting redistribution programs.

Further, about 18 percent said the that socioeconomic inequality was one their top two policy priorities, comparable to the 33 percent who said economic development and the 21 percent who indicated infrastructure.

No surprise here, party affiliation was an important factor.  Take a look at the graphic above left.  What we see is that 35 percent of Democratic mayors (blue) initiated redistribution programs and about about 50 percent made some statement of support, compared to the 5 percent of Republican mayors (red) in both categories.

"Marginal effect on mayors' support for redistribution in statements and programs
Einstein and Glick

Size is also a factor.  Mayors of larger cities were more likely to support and implement redistributive policies.  However, there was minimal effect from determinants such as: taxes or economic competition.  Mr. Florida writes, "Cities with strong strong mayor systems were less likely to say they supported redistributive policies but were more likely to enact them."

"Living with Inequality"
The Inequality Tradeoff

The next question is "how do mayors handle the trade-offs that come with addressing inequality?"  To understand this, Ms. Einstein and Mr. Glick asked the mayors if they agreed or disagreed with this statement:

Cities should try to reduce income inequality, even if doing so comes at the expense of business and/or wealthy residents.

Over half the mayors (about 55 percent) disagreed with the statement.  However, a third agreed with the statement.

Katherine Levine Einstein and David Glick underscored the importance of this conclusion-emphasizing how important addressing inequality is to the mayors.  They wrote,

...the fact that any mayors, let alone one-third are willing to sacrifice important components of their 'cities' tax bases to ameliorate inequality is striking.  (journals.sagepub.com)

Once again, the mayors's responses aligned with party affiliation: 53 percent of Democratic mayors and a mere six percent of Republicans said their were willing to make the trade-offs.

"Bring on the hipsters"
The Gentrification Tradeoff

Probing deeper at the types of trade-offs the responding mayors were willing to make in the name of inequality, the survey queried the mayors if they agreed or disagreed with the following question (Richard Florida notes, "here, disagreeing is in line with greater redistribution):

It is good for a neighborhood when it experiences rising property values, even if it means that some residents might have to move out.

In general, 30 percents of the mayors disagreed with the statement, while 40 percent agreed and 30 percent had no opinion.  Richard Florida writes, "Interestingly, there was virtually no difference between Democratic and Republican mayors here.  This may be because some mayors view rising property values and tax revenues they bring as a 'good thing' and perhaps feel they can use other public policies to address the needs of those who are displaced."

The Trump administration is barely a month old and already a growing number of urbanists maintain that localism and local empowerment are necessary components for address geographic differences and dealing with looming cuts in federal funds to cities and the social safety net.  Both Katherine Levine Einstein and David Glick offer useful context to the issue of civic empowerment.

Richard Florida writes, "On the one hand, it lends support to the view the mayors are willing to take on issues like inequality and policies like redistribution, which have long been seen as the purview of the federal government."

He continues, "...on the other hand, it contrasts with the prevailing viewpoint that mayors' strategies are more pragmatic and less partisan than those of national politics."  Breaking this down along party lines, "Democratic mayors are far more likely to address inequality and develop redistributive policies and initiatives than their Republican counterparts."  We can conclude that when comes to the issue of income inequality and redistribution, what color tie you wear still matters at the local level.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Can We Begin To Heal The Divisions


The White House behind the gates
Washington D.C.
Carolyn Kaster/AP
Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a brand new week and new subjects to talk about.  Today we are going to take a look at just how divided the United States is.  By divided, your truly does not mean physically divided, rather, divided along class and geographic lines.  Four weeks into the new administration, it is worth taking a look at how this schism affected the presidential election and what it all means.  Our for today's discussion is Richard Florida's CityLab article "It's Still About Class and Geography."  It seems like it might be too late to another election post-mortem but it is worth reminding everyone this division goes deep and will take a long time to heal.

Final 2016 Electoral Map
Sources: AP, Fox News, CNN, CBS News, ABC News
Let us start with the obvious, former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was defeated by real estate developer-turned-politician Donald J. Trump (R-NY).  That said, one the reasons why Madame Secretary lost was Mr. Trump was able to breach the hallowed "blue wall" in Midwestern United States and reconfigure the electorate.  That and, all the polls and data analytics were wrong. They failed to accurately predict the outcome.  This is all true to a point.  However, Mr. Florida writes, "But the bigger reality according to my own analysis is that the 2016 election follows the same basic contours of class and location-the same divides of knowledge and density-of the last several election."  In essence, the class and geographic division, opened up by the 2016 Presidential Election, is not a new phenomenon.

Martin Prosperity Institute Federal 2016 Federal Election Results
Charlotta Mellander: statistical analysis
Taylor Blake: map data

Richard Florida's own state-by-state election results confirmed the election conforms to America's underlying basic economic, demographic, and political divides.  Instead of a major break with the past, the election reinforced "...existing divides between richer, more highly educated, more knowledge-based states and less advantaged, less diverse, whiter ones.  More than anything else, I would argue, the 2016 election hardened these long-standing divides."  The first half of this statement is a description of the creative-class that Mr. Florida has written extensively about.  He is correct in saying that the 2016 election did concretized those divisions.

The above map is the Martin Prosperity Institute analysis of the Elections.  Charlotte Mellander produced the statistical analysis and Taylor Blake organized and mapped the data.  The map overlays the past three federal elections: Obama versus McCain (2008); Obama versus Romney (2012), and Clinton versus Trump (2016).

Richard Florida reports, "Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia were extremely closely correlated with Obama's in 2012 (.97) and with Obama's in 2008 (.92)."  Taking a look at the correlation between votes for POTUS, Senator John McCain, and former-Governor Mitt Romney, Mr. Florida found a similar correlation: "Trump's were similarly closely correlated with Romney's votes in 2012 (.91) and McCain's in 2008 (.87)."  Looking across states, the final tallies neatly aligned themselves with the surveys: "...correlations of .95 for Clinton and .97 for Trump against Pollster's mid-to-late October polls."

Clinton 2016
Trump 2016
Obama 2012
Romney 2012
Obama 2008
McCain 2008
Annual Wage
College Grads
Creative Class
Working Class
Service Class
Voter correlation along class lines
Martin Prosperity Institute

Class remains a primary feature of the American political schism.  The above chart illustrates the correlations  between voters, class, and annual wage.  In the 2016 elections, support for Madame Secretary was focused in "...states with higher wages (.82), greater shares of college grads (.77), and greater share of workforce in knowledge, professional and creative jobs (.72)."  Conversely, support for POTUS was centered in states with "...lower 9-.81), smaller shares of college grads (-.81), and smaller shares of the workforce in knowledge, professional, and creative jobs (-.73)."  These correlations have grown since the past two elections.

President Donald Trump enjoyed a high level of support in states with a greater share of working class "...(79), similar to Romney in 2012 but up somewhat from McCain in 2008."  On the opposite end, Madame Secretary's support was "...negatively correlated with a larger blue-collar share of the workforce (-.77).  Again, this was roughly on par with Obama in 2012, but greater than Obama in 2008."

Richard Florida highlights the results when unionization is factored into the equation.  He writes, "While working class states went for Trump and against Clinton, the effect of unionization was the opposite.  States with more union members favored Clinton over Trump."  More precisely, "Clinton support was positively associated with the level of unionization across states (.46), whole Trump support was negatively associated with it (-.44).  These correlations are slightly weaker than the past two election cycles."

The majority of analyses of the American class divide juxtapose the knowledge-base class and older working class.  Mr. Florida points out, "few look at the largest class, the service class, which is made up of nearly 70 million American workers, or 45 percent of the workforce who earn low wages..."  Madame Secretary's supporter was greater "where the service class in larger (.32), while Trump's support was weaker (-.33)."

As the Democrats plot a course for the future they might do well to remember this, while it is important to win back the Caucasian working class, they should keep in mind "... that the 70 million member, multi-ethnic service is double the size, makes a fraction of the income.

Clinton 2016
Trump 2016
Obama 2012
Romney 2012
Obama 2008
McCain 2008
Drive Alone to Work
Density and Urbanization Correlation
 Martin Prosperity Institute

Density and Urbanization
Jane Jacobs once said "You are where you live" but we can re-write it "You vote where you are."  Density and urbanization are another key feature of the political divide.  The correlations totaled:
"Clinton support was positively associated with both density (.71) and the share of the state that is urbanized (.63), while Trump support was negatively associated with both (-.61 with density and -.54 with the urbanized share)."  These correlations are similarly to the 2012 numbers and somewhat greater than the 2008 numbers.

However, support for Trump was positively connected with states where the greater share of people drive alone to work, "a proxy indicator for sprawl (.53), while Clinton support was negatively associate with it (-.46)."

Clinton 2016
Trump 2016
Obama 2012
Romney 2012
Obama 2008
McCain 2008
Home-Ownership Share
Median Housing Value
Housing Correlations
Martin Prosperity Institute

Housing is another key component of the political gulf.  President Trump's support was "positively associated with states where the share of residents who own homes is higher (.61), while Clinton support was negatively associated with it (-.63)."  This is a substantial increase from the 2012 federal elections and more so from the 2008 elections.  Housing prices seems to have played a larger role.  Richard Florida writes, "Clinton support was higher in states with more expensive housing (with a correlation of .75 to median housing values), while Trump's was negative (-.80)."

Clinton 2016
Trump 2016
Obama 2012
Romney 2012
Obama 2008
McCain 2008
White Share of Population
Hispanic Share of Population
Black Share of Population
Race correlations
Housing Correlations
Martin Prosperity Institute

Race played a massive role in the 2016 federal election.  However, at the state level, race was less of a factor in deciding whether a state when Blue (Democrat) or Red (Republican).

Predominantly Caucasian states went against Madame Secretary, "...with a negative correlation of -.36 to the white share of the population.  The white share of the population was positive but statistically insignificant for Trump."  This number is similar to the 2012 numbers but greater than the 2008 correlations.  Given the heated campaign rhetoric, it is not that surprising that predominantly Latino states went Blue "...(.31) and even more so against Trump (-.36).  This is significantly greater than in 2012 or 2008."

The number of immigrants or foreign-born people played a larger part.  Mr. Florida reports, "The share of foreign-born in a state was positively associated with Clinton votes (.67) and negatively associated with Trump votes (-.67)."  Blogger is not surprised by this.

Richard Florida notes, "A surprising finding I pointed to in October is the result for the share of the share of the population that is black.  While black voters voted overwhelmingly for Clinton and remain a core element of the Democratic coalition, the correlation for the black share of the population is insignificant for both Clinton and Trump at the state level."

Clinton 2016
Trump 2016
Obama 2012
Romney 2012
Obama 2008
McCain 2008
Abortion Providers Per Capita
Gay Index
The Cultural Correlation
Martin Prosperity Institute

The Culture Wars
The differences on white hot cultural and social issues continue to matter in the elections and reflect the underlying divisions in class and geography.

Religion is a major dividing line in the United States but its importance appears to have waned a little in 2016.  Mr. Florida reports, "The level of religiosity in a state-measure via Gallup surveys of the share of the states population who say they are very religious, was positively correlated with Trump support (.54) and negatively associated with Clinton (-.55).  These correlations are down both 2012 and 2008."

Abortion is a major fault line in American politics.  Madame Secretary was positively correlated with access to pregnancy termination services, "...measured as the number of abortion providers normalized for population (.69).  These correlations are similar to the past two election cycles."

Gays and gay rights is another powerful dividing line.  Precisely speaking, "Clinton support was positively associated with the share of LGBT people in a state (.75), while Trump support was similarly negatively correlated with it (.-75)."  These correlations are significantly greater than 2012 or 2008.

Be that as it may, on the policy front, taxes remain the quotidian issue separating both parties.  Madame Secretary supported higher taxes with higher state income taxes, while POTUS support is from states with lower tax rates.  Mr. Florida writes, "Clinton at the state level is positively associated with state income taxes per capita (.44), while Trump support is negatively correlated (-.42) with such state-by-state tax burdens."

For many American urban dwellers, President Donald Trump's victory was a stunning blow, which some are still recovering from.  As hard as it is to believe, this is not quite the anomaly as it was.  The fact of the matter is that we are deeply divided along class and geography lines and these divisions are not going to be healed so quickly.

The overarching question is "Can we-or how can we-survive as such a divided nation?"  Twenty-four days into the Trump administration and Blogger is not that optimistic that we can survive as a divided nation.  This is not to say that the United States should only have a one party system.  That would be contrary to foundation of American values.  Rather, a compromise, of sorts, may be the best approach.  Yours truly believes that at some level both Red and Blue staters fundamentally agree on the key issues.  The trick is stop the nonsense, like shushing female senators who want to speak.  Another solution for co-existance is giving more power to the states and municipalities.  This is greatest to way to acknowledge and respect the differences between the Red and the Blue