Sunday Tangent: Economist (London) passim on “Global Creativity Index”, which ranks Japan over USA in terms of creativity
Posted by debito on January 24th, 2010
Hi Blog. In their bumper Xmas Issue last year, The Economist had a number of (as usual) interesting articles. Here’s another, about what makes America attractive as a destination for immigration.
The part that I’ll excerpt from concerns how countries attract talent and creativity, citing an odd survey called the “Global Creativity Index” created by a Richard Florida. The Economist notes, ”The index combines measures of talent, technology and tolerance. America comes fourth, behind Sweden, Japan and Finland,”, then picks apart the methodology that would put Japan as more tolerant to people from elsewhere than the US (and Finland, which also has a very low percentage of foreigners). Given the revolving-door labor market (here and here) and the trouble NJ in Japanese universities have getting favorable study conditions and domestic employment afterwards (here and here), one wonders if this celebrity researcher has ever lived or worked overseas much. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
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From The Economist print edition
The greatest strength of America is that people want to live there
Mr Florida and Irene Tinagli of Carnegie Mellon University compiled a “Global Creativity Index”, which tries to capture countries’ ability to harness talent for “innovation…and long-run prosperity”. The index combines measures of talent, technology and tolerance. America comes fourth, behind Sweden, Japan and Finland. You could quarrel with the methodology. America comes top on certain measures, such as patents per head and college degrees, but it is deemed less tolerant than other countries in the top ten. This is because the index rewards “modern, secular” values and penalises Americans for being religious and nationalistic.
This is a mistake. Some religious countries are indeed intolerant, but America is not one of them, as Ms Hirsi Ali attests. And for many talented people, such as Mr Lee, America’s vibrant and varied religious scene makes the country more attractive, not less.
Michael Fix of the Migration Policy Institute, a think-tank, observes that religion has a strong effect on who comes to America. For example, although Muslims slightly outnumber Christians in Nigeria, Nigerian immigrants to America are 92% Christian and only 5% Muslim. Christians are about a quarter of the South Korean population, but four-fifths of Korean immigrants in America are Christian. Migrants from the Middle East and North Africa are mostly Muslim, but a hefty 28% are Christian and 10% are Jewish.
Christians and Jews are drawn to America in part because they know it is an easy place to be Christian or Jewish. They don’t face persecution, as they might in the Middle East. Nor do they face derision, as they might in more aggressively secular parts of Europe. Also, churches create networks. Migrants typically go where they already know people, and often make contact through a church.
It is also a mistake to rate Americans as less tolerant because they are nationalistic. Americans may have an annoyingly high opinion of their country, but theirs is an inclusive nationalism. Most believe that anyone can become American. Almost nobody in Japan thinks that anyone can become Japanese, yet Japan is rated more “tolerant” than America. This is absurd.
Rest of the Economist article at