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The rural-urban divide is widening, and the global economy faces a reckoning

By Quartz Membership

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 beenRead full story

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  • Within the tech community, everyone is banging the table on "distributed teams", but the data suggests the future of work is more centralized than we may think. Currently, over 80% of Americans live in urban areas, though they're only 3.5% of total land area. 3.6 billion people live in cities globally

    Within the tech community, everyone is banging the table on "distributed teams", but the data suggests the future of work is more centralized than we may think. Currently, over 80% of Americans live in urban areas, though they're only 3.5% of total land area. 3.6 billion people live in cities globally, and that number is expected to increase to over 6 billion in the next thirty years.

  • I remember 6 years ago visiting friends in Maine and driving through formerly charming rural towns and not being able to figure out how the dilapidated homes and empty storefronts could ever be recovered.

    This is a huge challenge that education alone doesn’t fix. What’s the incentive to live in a place

    I remember 6 years ago visiting friends in Maine and driving through formerly charming rural towns and not being able to figure out how the dilapidated homes and empty storefronts could ever be recovered.

    This is a huge challenge that education alone doesn’t fix. What’s the incentive to live in a place where there’s nothing to do and limited places to convene?

    I’m generally an optimist and hope Allison’s parting guess is right, but this is daunting: “n 1980 the per capita income of the 10 richest metro areas was 1.4 times greater than income in ten poorest, by 2014 it was 1.7 times bigger. In 2016, 35% of 25- to 54-year-old men in Flint, Michigan did not have a job, only 5% didn’t in Alexandria, Virginia.”

  • The education gap is an important part of this divide. As the article notes, it's not enough to move to a city to set yourself on a path to upward mobility -- you need at least a college degree, otherwise you'll be stuck in the same low-wage job you had in the country. There has always been a divide

    The education gap is an important part of this divide. As the article notes, it's not enough to move to a city to set yourself on a path to upward mobility -- you need at least a college degree, otherwise you'll be stuck in the same low-wage job you had in the country. There has always been a divide between urban and rural areas, but the 21st century is only making it worse.

  • Totally agree. Investment and policies to ensure equal education are vital - we (and our politicians) don’t talk about that enough.

  • This maybe the most destabilizing force threatening long term prosperity. And it’s a global problem. It needs to be a top priority for policy makers

  • From education to roads, this is a true article reflecting a big problem we are facing and increasingly enhancing.

    In the US, the way to defeat this issue is going to be the rebirth of our infrastructure. We need the government to work with the major telecommunications companies and get proper internet

    From education to roads, this is a true article reflecting a big problem we are facing and increasingly enhancing.

    In the US, the way to defeat this issue is going to be the rebirth of our infrastructure. We need the government to work with the major telecommunications companies and get proper internet into rural areas. We need to rebuild our railroad systems with better trains and build speed rails. And that is only two on a large list.

    The funny thing is the more the gap widens, the worse things will get and the middle class will be a dinosaur.

  • Fortunately our political system here in the US gives the rural part of our country a voice. This will ebb and flow over decades... eventually people will get tired of working ever longer hours to barely making meet in the city. Are you really better off in an urban area?

  • How true it's the as we-we know the education.

  • "If the next Steve Jobs (who was born in the Bay Area) is born in rural Arkansas, he has a much lower chance of becoming the next Steve Jobs."

    Just shows that talent is universal but opportunity is not.

    "Now we are in a new innovative cycle, transforming developed markets from industrial to knowledge

    "If the next Steve Jobs (who was born in the Bay Area) is born in rural Arkansas, he has a much lower chance of becoming the next Steve Jobs."

    Just shows that talent is universal but opportunity is not.

    "Now we are in a new innovative cycle, transforming developed markets from industrial to knowledge economies. Rural citizens are left behind because innovation and wealth creation doesn’t happen there, for many reasons. There is less of a premium on physical space—a computer and a desk takes up less room than the production line—so firms have less need to be where land is cheap. Globalization means firms have less need for domestic manufacturing labor."

    This part needs to be shared and explained to those who are "anti-globalists" to help them understand such macro economic cycle due to innovation not "globalist elites." And that we need to work together to solve this instead of making it about "us vs them".

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