It’s not the education, stupid

A large “creative class” determines economic prosperity, not merely the number of people with college degrees, writes Richard Florida in The Atlantic.

While most economists measure human capital by levels of educational attainment, my colleagues and I utilize a different measure: the share of a country’s workforce in high-skill, high wage Creative Class jobs spanning the fields of science, technology, and engineering; business, management and finance; design and architecture; arts, culture, entertainment, and media; law, healthcare, and education. A series of studies have found that these occupations, rather than college degrees, provide a more accurate measure of the key skills that comprise human capital. . . . In the U.S., for example, nearly three-quarters of adults with college degrees are members of the Creative Class, but less than 60 percent of the members of the Creative Class have college degrees.

Singapore ranks first in the world on this measure with 47.3 percent of the population in the creative class, followed by the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Germany. The United States ranks 27th in the world, just behind Slovakia.

Russia ranks 20th (38.6 percent), ahead of the U.S. Russia? Really? China lags far behind at 75th (7.4 percent).

The U.S. ranks 7th on the scale for technology and innovation, according to Florida.

Here’s more on the creative class.

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  1. Typical snobbery- there are plenty of “creative class” types who are flat-out broke and sponging off their parents’ largesse while skilled blue-collar folks are making six figures. I’d rather have my kid be a successful plumber or electrician than a broke artist any day of the week…

  2. I wonder whether they’re confusing cause and effect? After all, a poor country doesn’t have much need for that “Creative Class” there being not much for the Creative Class to do.

    And of course we do have various experimental situations to observe.

    Was China’s, Thailand’s, Hong Kong’s, Singapore’s or South Korea’s economic growth preceded by an expansion of the Creative Class or followed? My guess is “followed”.

  3. greeneyeshade says:

    I don’t know Richard Florida’s work that well, but what I’ve seen of it smacks to me of wishful thinking: If you can attract a “creative class” you can wait for problems like schools, crime and taxes to go away or solve themselves. Can anyone correct me on this?

  4. Cranberry says:

    “the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Germany.”

    So, what’s the score for the EU as a whole? I can’t find a list, so I have to squint at the map. It looks as if Ireland and Greece are darker than the US. Funnily enough, I predict that any number of young, intelligent Irish and Greek citizens will be trying to emigrate to the US over the next twenty years.

    It’s also interesting to compare the Creative Class map to the map of country populations:

    Whatever method Mr. Florida uses, it gives a bonus to countries with large land areas, and comparatively small populations.

    It’s pretty sad when intellectuals try to make a virtue of their greatest flaw, which is failing to accept that they depend upon the practical skills of others. Without electricians, most of our “creative class” can’t do anything. Without coal miners, petroleum workers and truck drivers, they’re sunk.

    If the garbage men don’t pick up the trash, will the Creative Class do it?

  5. Cranberry says:

    Mr. Florida’s map is also eerily similar to Figure 7 on this page:

    That’s the Global Old Age Dependency Ratios (2010). The older your population is, the more likely it is to be 1) educated, and 2) affluent. An 80 year old graphic designer is still a graphic designer.

    Long term, I’d bet against the “creative class” countries. Everyone can’t be a graphic artist. Someone has to work in the nursing homes–and some of these creative class countries are encountering difficulties staffing nursing homes now, in 2010. When there are too few young workers entering the pipeline, and very few willing to take care of the practical side of life, things will get difficult.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Steve Jobs was creative. Ditto a zillion other entrepreneurs. Starving artists trying to con somebody into thinking their mess is a status-enhancer…not so much.
    I used to live in a town which had an active Friends of Modern Art (FOMA) group. Their activity sparked an Enemies of Modern Art (ENEMA) group whose motto is, “If it doesn’t have fat little angels, it’s not good art.”
    If you do fat little angels, you’ll probably prosper, presuming the art school even lets you graduate.
    If your work looks like the scrapyard behind a shut-down steel mill….