2012 April 30 Monday
Germany Brain-Draining Southern Europe

Tyler Cowen sees economic activity concentrating into a smaller number of locations in the United States and perhaps Europe as well.

Note that highly productive economic activity seems to be concentrating itself in the United States, in a smaller number of locations. Perhaps the same is happening in Europe too. That’s hardly Spain’s biggest problem right now, and migration can in some ways be a blessing for an economy with high unemployment. Still, when the debt overhang is so high, this is troubling news too.

Tyler was responding to an NY Times piece on how Germany is brain-draining southern Europe. What I wonder: Will language barriers within Europe cause a greater migration of higher IQ than lower IQ workers? Will Germany become a focus place for high IQ laborers (with Britain perhaps getting them too due to widespread English fluency by the most educated)? Will the geographic distribution of laborers by IQ become greater in Europe than in the United States? Will this provide a competitive advantage for the European nation-states which currently have the highest living standards?

One way to think about the flat labor force since in the United States (in spite of continued growth of work age people) is that economic activity isn't just concentrating into a smaller number of locations. Economic activity is also concentrating into the hands (or, rather, the minds) of a smaller fraction of the population. This trend will continue.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 April 30 09:27 PM  Economics Labor


Comments
Florida resident said at May 1, 2012 9:20 AM:

Dear Mr. Parker !
I have no personal knowledge or opinion on the present day dynamics of “Germany is brain-draining southern Europe”.

I personally knew a really outstanding Professor of Electrical Engineering of MIT (now dead, unfortunately), whose ethnically German family has been (together with many others) expelled from former Yugoslavia after World War 2. His grandfather, if I remember it correctly, was Navy Minister in Austro-Hungarian Yugoslavia. Those families did not want to be “drained” out of there. Compare also with the brain-drain (better to label as “ejection”) of Theodore von Karman, John von Neumann, Eugene Wigner, Leo Scillard, Edward Teller, all originally from Hungary.

Your respectfully, Florida resident.

Florida resident said at May 1, 2012 11:33 AM:

I meant "Minister of Navy", i.e. high-ranked government official, not "naval preacher".
Sorry for lack of clarity.

Mirco said at May 2, 2012 6:20 PM:

The concentration is very interesting, because smaller is the fraction generating economic/intellectual activity, easier is to move it somewhere lese.

If this small minority start to become unsatisfied by the ruling class, they could decide to move and, if the moving start, it could happen very fast. Probably faster than any government is able to react.

Say someone set up a successful seasteading and, in the same time, the condition in Germany or in the US start to become difficult. This small group of productive people know each other directly or indirectly. As one or more of the influential move and confirm the seasteading is a good choice, many will move to join them and this could cascade in a complete brain drain.

Dingo Hammer said at May 3, 2012 8:17 AM:

We are evolving into two different species. Smarts and everyone else. Smarts want to be around other smarts, hence the clustering.

dearieme said at May 3, 2012 4:08 PM:

Yes, Britain does pick up lots of bright young continentals, and not just from the south - from Germany, Austria and, especially, France.

J. said at May 4, 2012 6:51 AM:

Though not a materialist, I am opposed to the Gnostic dream which recurs in various guises: that pure spirit can be pinched off of corrupt matter, and that the matter can be thrown away.

In economic language this shows up in the idea that intellectual or symbolic work can be separated from the material economy (manufacturing). Robert Reich was a prominent spokesman for this dream. It grew increasingly popular in the US as employment in the manufacturing sector declined and reached a peak during the dot-com bubble. It's been around for centuries, though, as declining economies "financialize". I believe in the opposite: in a robust economy the advanced manufacturing sector drags symbolic work along with it.

This is different from the normal ambitions of smart and entrepreneurial people. I have read about young French would-be entrepreneurs who are stifled by the heavy business regulations in France, and emigrate to Britain or the US.

Stephen said at May 6, 2012 6:02 PM:

Dearieme said: "Yes, Britain does pick up lots of bright young continentals, and not just from the south - from Germany, Austria and, especially, France."

I think that for smart people language is the big limiting factor when it comes to inter-country work. Most smart Germans speak very good english and they can easily function in the UK, but few smart Englishman speak more than a few words of German.

Lower skilled workers who don't speak the local language can still function reasonably well because the work they do doesn't require high level language skills.

Check it Out said at May 8, 2012 6:00 PM:

I once heard that Argentina is not better or worse than Spain, only younger. I liked that theory, so I invented a trick to calculate the age of a nation, based on the "dog system".

When we were kids, it was explained to us that, to know if a dog was young or old, one had to multiply its biological age by 7. In the case of nations, one must divide their biological age by 14 to know the humam equivalent.

Confused? In this article, I give some telling examples.

Argentina was born in 1816, therefore her age is 190. If we divide that by 14, Argentina is about 13 ½ "human" years old, i.e. she is an adolescent. She is rebellious, annoying, has no memory, answers before thinking and has acne all over (maybe that's why she is referred to as the granary of the world?).

Almost all Latin-American countries are the same age, and as it always happens in such cases, they form gangs. The Mercosur [the Southern Common Market, a trade agreement] gang consists of four adolescents who have a rock group. They rehearse in a garage, make a lot of noise and have never released an album.

Venezuela, which already has titties, is about to join them in the choir. In reality, like most girls her age, she wants to have sex, in this case with Brazil, 14, whose member is large.

México is also an adolescent, but of indigenous ascent. That's why he barely laughs and doesn't smoke even one harmless little joint, like the rest of his little friends; instead, he chews peyote, and is close to the USA, the mental retard bully age 17, who is dedicated to attacking the hungry 6-year old kids in other continents.

At the other end is millenarian China. If we divide her 1,200 years by 14, we get an age 85 woman; conservative, smelling of cat piss, who eats nothing but rice because she can't – for now – afford to buy herself some false teeth.

China has an 8 year old grandson, Taiwan, who makes her life miserable. For some time, she has been divorced from Japan, a grumpy old man, who got together with the Philippines, a stupid young girl, always ready for any aberration in exchange for money.

Then come those who just reached majority and go for rides in dad's BMW. For example, Australia and Canada, typical kids who grew up sheltered by daddy England and mommy France, received a strict and discrete education and now play dumb.

Australia is a foolish 18+ year old who does topless and has sex with South Africa; while Canada is an emancipated gay boy who will at any time adopt baby Greenland to form one of those alternative families so common nowadays.

France is a 36 year old divorced whore, more promiscuous than a hen, but well respected in the professional milieu. She has a barely age 6 queer son, Mónaco, who is on his way to become a prostitute or a dancer … or both. She is sporadically the lover of Germany, rich truck driver married to Austria, who knows she is being cheated on, but doesn't care.

Italy has been a widow for a long time. She is dedicated to taking care of San Marino and the Vatican, two catholic sons just like the Flanders twins. She was married the second time to Germany (that didn't last long: they gave birth to Switzerland), but now she wants nothing to do with men. Italy would like to be a woman like Belgium: a lawyer, independent, who wears pants and discusses politics as an equal to men (Belgium also sometimes fantasizes about knowing how to make spaghetti).

Spain is the prettiest woman in Europe (possible, France comes close, but she loses spontaneity because she uses so much perfume). She goes around topless a lot, and almost always drunk. Generally, she lets England screw her and then files a complaint. Spain has children all over the place (almost all age 13), who live far away. She loves them very much, but it bothers her that, when they are hungry, they spend some time at home and raid the fridge.

Another one who has kids scattered all over, is England. He goes out on ship cruises at night, gets laid by idiots, and nine months later a new island appears somewhere in the world. But he stays in touch. Generally, the islands live with mom, but England feeds them. Scotland and Ireland, England's siblings, who live on the upper floor, are always drunk and can't even play soccer. They are an embarrassment to the family.

Sweden and Norway are two lesbians of almost 40, with nice bodies for their age, but pay attention to no one. They screw and they work, because they have a diploma in something. Sometimes they make threesome with Holland (when they need dope); other times, they give a hard time to Finland, a sort of androgynous character aged 30, who lives alone in an unfurnished attic and spends all his time on the cellular with Korea.

Korea (the one on the south) is always watching her schizoid sister. They are twins, but the northern one took some amniotic fluid on her way out of the uterus and ended up stupid. She spent her childhood playing with pistols, and now that she lives alone, she is capable of anything. USA, the 17 year old moron, watches her a lot, not because he's afraid of her, he just wants to take her pistols.

Israel is an age 62 intellectual who had a shitty life. A few years ago, Germany, the truck driver, didn't see him and and run over him. From that day on, Israel went bananas. Now, instead of reading books, he spends the time on the terrace hurling stones at Palestine, the girl doing the laundry next door.

Irán and Iraq were two 16 year old cousins who used to steal motorcycles and sell the parts, until one day the stole a part from a USA bike, and that was the end of their Business. Now they sit around and eat their buggers.

The world was fine like that, until one day Russia got together with the Perestroika (but they didn't get married) and they had about a dozen and a half children. All weird, some mongoloids, others schizophrenic.

A while ago, thanks to a big rumble with bullets and dead bodies, we the serious dwellers of the world learned that there is now a country called Kabardino-Balkaria. A country with a flag, a president, a national anthem, flora, fauna … even people! I am a little scared when short-aged countries show up just like that, suddenly – when we find out indirectly and even have to pretend we already knew, so we don't look like idiots.

And I wonder: why do countries keep on popping up when those already here don't function?


By Hernán Casciari

-=-=-=-=-=-


* Translator's note: In Spanish, country names - like all other nouns - have genders. Throughout this translation, I use the gender for a country as the author has used it in his writing (not necessarily the way I or somebody else might use it). Examples: Argentina, Colombia, Spain are feminine - 'she'; the US, Brazil, Ecuador, Portugal are masculine – 'he'.

Eric said at May 16, 2012 2:29 PM:

I don't have any statistics from the past few years, but the macro trend has been scientists moving to the US to do research because there is less bureaucracy and higher pay. Increasingly good research and breakthroughs can be done with smaller teams, talent matters. As bad as America is, I'd still take it over Merkel's energy starvation policies and the EU bureaucracy.

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/2739
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,574849,00.html


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