Desires as Economic Development

Reacting to Governor Chafee’s mention of it, Ed Fitzpatrick has read Richard Florida’s book proclaiming the importance of tolerance to the economy and expresses, it seems to me, an appropriate skepticism regarding causation and correlation:

“My research finds a strong correlation between, on the one hand, places open to immigrants, artists, gays, bohemians and socioeconomic and racial integration, and on the other, places that experience high-quality economic growth,” Florida wrote. “Such places gain an economic advantage in both harnessing the creative capabilities of a broader range of their own people and in capturing a disproportionate share of the flow.”
I believe it was Snooki who first said: Correlation is not causation. In other words, just because there is a “strong correlation” between tolerance and economic growth doesn’t mean tolerance causes economic growth. Perhaps that is a point both Chafee and his critics gloss over.

As I suggested a few weeks ago, it seems to me that urban areas, especially with high concentrations of colleges, are likely to attract creative types regardless of an Nth degree of tolerance for them. Indeed, one might suppose that a region experiencing “high-quality economic growth” might generally attract people who are different from the native population.
In any event, even if “tolerance” deserves its place as one of three economic legs (talent and technology being Florida’s other two), that doesn’t mean that it is the one on which Rhode Island is deficient. Personally, I’d put aside the “three Ts” as an interesting post facto analysis with only indirect influence on Rhode Island’s economic health and focus, instead, on the more specific metric of economic freedom as indicated by taxes, mandates, and regulations.

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Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Personally, I’d put aside the “three Ts” as an interesting post facto analysis with only indirect influence on Rhode Island’s economic health and focus, instead, on the more specific metric of economic freedom as indicated by taxes, mandates, and regulations.

Yes, thankfully the right always proves causality in their analyses. Ha!
http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2011/feb/13/ocean-state-policy-research-institute/ocean-state-policy-research-institute-says-rhode-i/
What Justin is saying here is that he doesn’t reallyl understand statistical analysis, which in the case of explaining human behavior is always about finding correlations and offering theories that interpret those correlations.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/1000492_tech_and_tolerance.pdf

In all of our statistical analyses, the Gay Index does better than other individual measures of social and cultural diversity as a predictor of high-tech location (see Appendix B). The correlations are exceedingly high and consistently positive and significant. The results of a variety of multivariate regressions analyses back this up. The Gay Index is positively and significantly associated with both the ability of a region to attract talent and to generate high-tech industry.
Gays not only predict the concentration of high-tech industry, they are also a predictor of its growth.

In other words, “it seems to me that urban areas, especially with high concentrations of colleges, are likely to attract creative types regardless of an Nth degree of tolerance for them?” FALSE!
Nothing to see here. Move along. (thank you, signed the religious right)

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Oops, let me fix the formatting (sorry about that).

Personally, I’d put aside the “three Ts” as an interesting post facto analysis with only indirect influence on Rhode Island’s economic health and focus, instead, on the more specific metric of economic freedom as indicated by taxes, mandates, and regulations.

Yes, thankfully the right always proves causality in their analyses. Ha!
http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2011/feb/13/ocean-state-policy-research-institute/ocean-state-policy-research-institute-says-rhode-i/
What Justin is saying here is that he doesn’t reallyl understand statistical analysis, which in the case of explaining human behavior is always about finding correlations and offering theories that interpret those correlations.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/1000492_tech_and_tolerance.pdf

In all of our statistical analyses, the Gay Index does better than other individual measures of social and cultural diversity as a predictor of high-tech location (see Appendix B). The correlations are exceedingly high and consistently positive and significant. The results of a variety of multivariate regressions analyses back this up. The Gay Index is positively and significantly associated with both the ability of a region to attract talent and to generate high-tech industry.
Gays not only predict the concentration of high-tech industry, they are also a predictor of its growth.

In other words, “it seems to me that urban areas, especially with high concentrations of colleges, are likely to attract creative types regardless of an Nth degree of tolerance for them?” FALSE!
Nothing to see here. Move alon

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
11 years ago

Russ,
My statement is not proven false by anything that you cite. In fact, by your own citation, homosexuals may represent the strongest correlation, but they are hardly the only correlating factor. Urban areas, that is, could attract creative types without a high percentage of them being gay. At most, you could claim that tolerance for homosexuals would attract more creative types, but you’d also have to make the case that the delta is decisive in the case of Rhode Island.
We’re a bit beyond what I’ve time to research, but I suspect that any real sampling is skewed by some large population centers (e.g., NYC, LA, Boston), but that there are in fact locations that are somewhat less tolerant but still attract creative people.
I’d stress, though, that I’m not opposed to drawing smart, creative, and entrepreneurial homosexuals to Rhode Island, nor am I encouraging intolerance as a social policy. It is absurd, though, to blithely make the leap from this statistical correlation to such statements as that passing a same-sex marriage law would be to the overall good of the Rhode Island economy.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

What’s important to note here is that I’m not making these claims; the research conducted by Florida supports his making those claims. Your comment that “any real sampling is skewed by some large population centers” just tells me that you haven’t really bothered to read Florida’s research:

Statistically, one might be concerned that the influence of San Francisco (which ranks unusually high, first in fact, on both the hightech and gay indices) may create a false association between the two measures. To check for this, we removed San Francisco from the data and repeated the analyses. The basic findings remain virtually the same.18 In fact, the influence of the Gay Index on high-tech growth strengthens slightly when San Francisco is not included.

I know you’d like to dismiss the numbers, but so far the gist of your argument appears to be that you don’t like the idea so it must not be true.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

I wanted to highlight one of the findings from Florida’s research…

Gays are frequently cited as harbingers of redevelopment and gentrification in distressed urban neighborhoods. Studies also suggest that the presence of gays in a metropolitan area provides a barometer for a broad spectrum of amenities attractive to adults, especially those without children.

I can personally attest to seeing this effect in Jersey City and in Chelsea (NYC), where it was common to talk about the “gay-ification” of a neighborhood as a precursor to rising home values, improved schools, etc.

Justin Katz
Justin Katz
11 years ago

Russ,
I would love to have the time to read Florida’s research. Such activities are a core reason that I wish to make Anchor Rising a full-time gig.
In the meantime, though, you haven’t presented anything that inspires me to drop my other responsibilities in order to look more deeply. Removing a single city hardly controls for the influence of a few centers. Indeed, the fact that removing San Francisco “strengthens slightly” the Gay Index illustrates the point; it suggests that San Francisco is more “gay” than technology-soaked. Interestingly, your citation raises a city that I didn’t include in my list of examples…
Furthermore, I’m willing to cede that there are enclaves in which increasing numbers of homosexuals change the character of neighborhoods in a way that some people might consider preferable. Frankly, as a lover of high culture, I’m happy that such enclaves exist. That does not mean that a city, let alone a state, should make gay-friendly policies a centerpiece for economic development.
Yes, the disproportionate presence of homosexuals will correlate with “a broad spectrum of amenities attractive to adults, especially those without children,” but adults without children, even when wealthier than the average, are a narrow pier on which to build a structure.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

“I would love to have the time to read Florida’s research.”
Me, I prefer to actually read the research before commenting (and sorry for your loss… I lost my father last year so I know it’s tough).
I think there’s certainly plenty to question, for instance whether legalizing same sex marriage would have any effect, which is not at all clear (see the comment above about the gay index as “a barometer for a broad spectrum of amenities attractive to adults, especially those without children” — how does same sex marriage impact that?). But you seem to be questioning statistical analysis as a method for predicting human behavior, which is of course a pretty tenuous argument considering we use the same techniques in the business world for a myriad of purposes.

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