Demographics shorts

1. Bill Frey from Brookings on how America is already transitioning to a multiracial society:

Over the last decade, the U.S. population under age 18 grew by less than 3 percent. But the 2010 Census also reveals an absolute decline of white young people over this period, as well a somewhat smaller decline of black youths. Hispanics, Asians, and to a lesser degree multiracial children, accounted for all of the net growth the nation’s under-18 population.

This, however, has troubling consequences with regard to the ever greater divide (see #6) between older, whiter, conservative voters and younger, browner, liberal constituents — in short, between America’s past and America’s future, except that the former is generally going to be in charge.

2. Speaking of America growing apart, an interesting way to look at Brookings Metro’s newest online datasets — showing that metro areas dominate many states in population, employment, and particularly in economic output — is to compare cities that lead vs. lag in GDP per capita within their respective states. For instance, right next door:
Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.: 47% higher GRP/capita than state average
Burlington, N.C.: 25% lower GRP/capita than state average

Within the nation as a whole, the wide gap between the most and least productive regions is sharply growing: DC earns 5X as much as Mississippi, and that gap has grown 18% since 1990. By 2015, at PPP, Shanghai province will have a higher per capita income than Mississippi.

3. Wikipedia has some interesting bits on linguistics. For instance, the extra R in “char siu bao” (it’s pronounced “cha seew bow”) comes, of course, from the non-rhotic Englishmen who settled in Hong Kong. Also, something that I’ve noticed in England and New England alike — particularly in terms like street names — is a tendency towards plainer terminology, disposing of many of the euphemisms that American English has imported from French. This tendency has a term, since of course it was tied to the tension between upper and middle class Britons — “U and non-U.”

2 thoughts on “Demographics shorts

  1. Does that mean at some point it will be cheaper to locate industrial manufacturing in Mississippi than in China, especially considering the lower transportation costs for the finished goods? Seems like potentially good news, although I suspect when China gets too expensive, there are other countries where labor still be cheaper than Mississippi.

  2. In some sense, yes, I suppose that it should be cheaper to manufacture some goods “onshore.” The wealthiest parts of coastal China (Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong [Canton]) are already seeing low-value-added manufacturing disperse either to China’s interior or to lower cost countries like Vietnam. However, some factors that might keep manufacturing there include:
    1. Currency differentials that are factored out by the PPP comparison — $5/hour in Shanghai is considered a good wage, since employees can afford small luxuries like eating out for lunch (<$1), whereas such consumer goods are more expensive even in Mississippi ($3+?) and thus such wages aren't really sustainable there
    2. Ready, cheap availability of raw/finished inputs that may be easier to ship to/within China
    3. Access to other markets, particularly as consumer demand continues to grow in Asia and Africa
    4. The quality/productivity of workers may or may not be higher; it's not a direct comparison, since few factory workers are educated locally, but Shanghai students did much better on standardized tests than Americans students overall, much less those in Mississippi

    Overall, I’d say that #3 is the most compelling rationale as to why we probably won’t see a lot of manufacturing come back: the demand just isn’t here anymore.

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