Texans Didn't Make Houston Great

A city with more outsiders is more likely to attract more outsiders. And birthplace diversity, not density, is what fuels prosperity.
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A city with more outsiders is more likely to attract more outsiders. And birthplace diversity, not density, is what fuels prosperity.
The southern view of Houston's skyline. (PHOTO: HEQUALS2HENRY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The southern view of Houston's skyline. (PHOTO: HEQUALS2HENRY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

In the war for talent, less social capital is more. Rust Belt cities are wound too tightly. Case in point, Louisville, Kentucky:

"[In Houston], connections are really important to get my resume through the door. But I felt like in Louisville, if I didn’t know somebody in Louisville it was going to be harder to get a job. And I didn’t think they valued my education as much as people did here."

Why is that?

"Houston has more companies. So in terms of job searching it made it easier for me to figure out what I wanted by having more choices, which obviously a smaller city wouldn’t have that. But they did seem more open to recent graduates than Louisville did. I felt like the big companies in Louisville weren’t as interested in recent graduates. They were more interested in experience."

Louisville is more parochial than Houston. In abstract terms, the strength of the network is within the community. Within Houston, those same connections are weaker. That network is more outward facing, "more open to recent graduates."

A city with more outsiders is more likely to attract more outsiders. As more outsiders arrive, they push out locals. Those damn carpetbaggers ruined Houston. Yankee go home!

Texans didn't make Houston great. Birthplace diversity, not density, fuels prosperity. The model of choice isn't compact New York City, but sprawling Los Angeles:

As shown in table 2, only 27.5 percent of Los Angeles adults were born locally, that is, in California. This contrasts to local origins for 57.6 percent of New Yorkers and 60.5 percent of Chicago residents. Among Washington, DC, residents, 34.5 percent were born locally. Not surprisingly, the two high-growth regions have many more migrants from outside the area.

Emphasis added. Houston is becoming more like Los Angeles, which appeals to someone tired of her hometown. She wants to bowl with strangers. She can't do that in Louisville.

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