367 (1 May 2019)


Welcome to week 367!  The articles below caught my attention this week.  What are intended to be relatively objective “briefs” are preceded by dashes (——–), whereas additional material or relatively subjective comments are preceded by asterisks (********).  Article titles preceded by [SR] require a subscription.

(10 April 2019):From Gentrification to Decline: How Neighborhoods Really ChangeCityLab

——–“When people talk about how big cities have changed over the last two decades, the word the inevitably comes up is gentrification—the influx of affluent newcomers. . . . But across U.S. metros, gentrification may not be the dominant type of urban change.  Instead, it’s the concentration of poverty—particularly in the suburbs—that’s the type of transformation most Americans have been experiencing.  That’s according to [a] new report and mapping project by William Stancil, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School’s Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity.”  Previous studies “have explored the complicated relationship between gentrification and displacement, and researchers have come up skeptical about whether the firs directly causes the second. . . . Demographic shifts observed over time appear to happen in part because low-income residents are more precarious generally, and more likely to move.  As rents rise, they’re often replaced by higher-income residents.  the low-income residents who do end up being pushed out, however, tend to move to worse-off areas.  Over time, these complex, simultaneous changes lead to a shifting of economic, and often racial, boundaries.”

********Most interesting to me is the development of a 2×2 table based upon whether a geographic tract is economically expanding or declining, and whether the tract low-income population is growing of declining.  Thus a displacement tract is economically expanding and experiencing low-income population decline, which sounds a lot like gentrification.  A concentration tract is economically declining and experiencing low-income population growth.  Filling out the table are growth tracts and abandonment tracts.  The interesting thing related in the Report, p.20, is that “By far the most common form of neighborhood change is low-income concentration.  In the 50 largest metros, tracts that have experienced strong low-income concentration include about 365 million people, and are predominantly suburban.”  On the other hand, “Tracts that have experienced low-income displacement contain about 9.5 million people, and are predominantly located in central cities.”  In short, suburban low-income concentration dwarfs urban low-income displacement in numbers.

********The Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity has an interactive map that allows one to zoom into an part of the U.S. and see the extent to which low-income people are being displaced or concentrated.  I was struck by the areas of concentration in my childhood town of Watertown, Wisconsin.  Likewise, although less surprising, Asheville, North Carolina shows large areas of displacement and concentration.  Check out areas of interest to you.

********The work of the Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity provides a valuable lens through which to view articles such as “The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black.  The Home Buyers Are Mostly WhiteThe New York Times.  This article focuses largely on Raleigh, North Carolina and brings race into the picture.  The following gives a sense of what is going on.  In Raleigh, “and in the center of cities across the United States, a kind of demographic change most often associated with gentrifying parts of New York and Washington has been accelerating.  White residents are increasingly moving into nonwhite neighborhoods, largely African-American ones.”  The fuller picture is this: “In city after city, a map of racial change shows predominantly minority neighborhoods near downtown growing whiter, while suburban neighborhoods that were once largely white are experiencing an increased share of black, Hispanic and Asian-American residents.”

(27 April 2019):’Getting Worse, Not Better’: Illegal Pot Market Booming in California Despite LegalizationThe New York Times

——–“It’s been a little more than a year since California legalized marijuana—the largest such experiment in the United States—but law enforcement officials say the unlicensed, illegal market is still thriving and in some areas has even expanded.”  As a result, there have been calls for stepped-up enforcement.  Illicit sales “are cannibalizing the revenue of licensed businesses and in some cases, experts say, forcing them out of business.  Entrepreneurs in the industry, which spent decades evading the law, are now turning to the law to demand the prosecution of unlicensed pot businesses.”  As Robert Taft, Jr., a licensed cannabis business owner in Orange County notes, “We are the taxpayers—no one else should be operating.”

********An interesting but not so surprising development.  I found it interesting that an enforcement regime that was once predicated on protecting public health or safety, is now being pursued to protect economic interests, at least as Robert Taft, Jr. sees things.  One thing to consider in this story, as the article notes, are exports to other states which are, of course, illegal.  Thus “the more fundamental reason for the strength of the black market in California . . . is the huge surplus of pot. . . . Of the roughly 14 million pounds of marijuana grown in California annually, only a fraction—less than 20 percent . . . –is consumed in California.  The rest seeps out across the country illicitly.”

********Legal pot in California has led to a great expansion of pot-related jobs, which “range from hourly work at farms and stores to executive positions.  They also span the country.  Columbia Care, a medical cannabis company that is based in New York and has 500 employees, has indoor farms and manufacturing plants in Massachusetts, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Arizona and the District of Columbia.”  You can learn more by reading “Cannabis, Marijuana, Weed, Pot?  Just Call It a Job Machine” in The New York Times.

(29 April 2019):Greek Gods and Game TheoryJSTOR Daily

——–“Undergraduate students are often exposed to game theory.  But . . . upon graduation most students ‘will never again encounter a formal game theoretic model.’”  So perhaps “professors who rely on mathematical models and theorems should instead turn to something more familiar and compelling to students, something that will stay with them long after graduation.”  Perhaps the route to learning game theory is through Greek mythology.

********The foundation article for this post is “Using Greek Mythology to Teach Game Theory” in the Fall 2002 copy of The American Economist.  A link to the article is provided at the end of the post.  The post raised the question for me, once more, of what is deeply learned in a college (or other) course, so that it might be accessed repeatedly over a lifetime.

(30 April 2019):Why Financial Literacy Is So ElusiveBloomberg.com

********Here Barry Ritholtz dilates upon college graduation speeches and the often heard “lament about a lack of financial literacy.”  Drawing upon his reading and academic research, he notes that “One research paper looked at more than 200 studies, and reached the conclusion that the lessons of financial education are fleeting, and degrade quickly without frequent use.”  Nonetheless, many states have jumped on the financial education bandwagon: “financial-literacy classes are mandated by 19 states in order to graduate from high school, up from 13 states eight years ago.”  And, as it turns out, North Carolina is one of the states looking to be included in that list.  Ritholtz provides three potential solutions to make financial education “stick”: (1) use hand-on education; (2) employ repetition; and (3) teach how to think, i.e., how to find information and problem solve.  These are suggestions that clearly relate to the question of how to teach so that what is learned might be accessed repeatedly over a lifetime.

May you have a good week!

Bruce

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