Welcome to Tipping Points, a new feature for Quartz members about the financial and economic risks we face. Each week, Quartz’s Allison Schrager, a trained economist, will examine how a different event, trend, or condition may reach the point where it impacts our lives (for good or bad). Allison will highlight risks that have been hiding in plain sight, but have the potential to upend entire economies.
We can’t predict the future, but we can better prepare for it. This week, she’s looking at the rural/urban divide.
The division between rural and urban areas in North America, Europe, and Asia is one of the most destabilizing forces currently facing policy makers and their citizens. Educated workers in cities are surging ahead, enjoying income growth and higher standards of living. Meanwhile, life is stagnating in rural districts, which tend to be older and less educated. It’s not just a source of political division and populism, leading to once unthinkable election outcomes. It also threatens to strain economies, leading to lower growth and increased inequality.