Globalisation’s losers

全球化的输家

The right way to help declining places

扶持衰退地区的正确方式

Time for fresh thinking about the changing economics of geography

重新思考区域经济学恰逢其时

POPULISM’S wave has yet to crest. That is the sobering lesson of recent elections in Germany and Austria, where the success of anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation parties showed that a message of hostility to elites and outsiders resonates as strongly as ever among those fed up with the status quo. It is also the lesson from America, where Donald Trump is doubling down on gestures to his angry base, most recently by adopting a negotiating position on NAFTA that is more likely to wreck than remake the trade agreement.

民粹主义浪潮的巅峰尚未到来,这是最近德国、奥地利大选引人深思的教训。反移民、反全球化政党的胜利表明,不满现状的群体敌视精英和外来者的声音仍旧强烈。这也是美国的教训,川普在愤怒的支持者面前变本加厉的做出姿态,最近他的谈判立场更像在破坏而非修改《北美自由贸易协定》。

These remedies will not work. The demise of NAFTA will disproportionately hurt the blue-collar workers who back Mr Trump. Getting tough on immigrants will do nothing to improve economic conditions in eastern Germany, where 20% of voters backed the far-right Alternative for Germany. But the self-defeating nature of populist policies will not blunt their appeal. Mainstream parties must offer voters who feel left behind a better vision of the future, one that takes greater account of the geographical reality behind the politics of anger.

这些解决办法不会奏效。《北美自由贸易协定》的终止会极大损害支持川普的蓝领工人。强硬的移民政策无助于改善德国东部的经济现状,该地区有20%的选民支持“德国另类选择党”,民粹政策适得其反的本质无损于它们的吸引力。对于感觉掉队的选民,主流政党必须为他们描绘更加美好的未来,但在愤怒政治的背后需要更多考量区域现实。

Location, location, vocation

Economic theory suggests that regional inequalities should diminish as poorer (and cheaper) places attract investment and grow faster than richer ones. The 20th century bore that theory out: income gaps narrowed across American states and European regions. No longer. Affluent places are now pulling away from poorer ones (see article). This geographical divergence has dramatic consequences. A child born in the bottom 20% in wealthy San Francisco has twice as much chance as a similar child in Detroit of ending up in the top 20% as an adult. Boys born in London’s Chelsea can expect to live nearly nine years longer than those born in Blackpool. Opportunities are limited for those stuck in the wrong place, and the wider economy suffers. If all its citizens had lived in places of high productivity over the past 50 years, America’s economy could have grown twice as fast as it did.

位置、位置、职业

经济理论表明,随着贫困地区吸引投资,经济增速超过发达地区,区域发展不平衡会得到改善。20世纪证明了这一点:美国和欧洲地区的收入差距得以缩小。但今非昔比,发达地区与贫困地区的差距正在扩大,区域差距会带来严重后果。相比底特律特的底层儿童,富裕旧金山的20%底层儿童成年后跻身于20%上层群体的机会高出一倍。伦敦彻西区的男童可比布莱克浦尔的男童多活将近9年。在经济落后地区,人们的机遇受到局限,整体经济陷入困境。过去50年,假如公民全部生活在生产力较高的地区,美国经济增长会比当时高出一倍。

Divergence is the result of big forces. In the modern economy scale is increasingly important. The companies with the biggest hoards of data can train their machines most effectively; the social network that everyone else is on is most attractive to new users; the stock exchange with the deepest pool of investors is best for raising capital. These returns to scale create fewer, superstar firms clustered in fewer, superstar places. Everywhere else is left behind.

区域差距是巨大力量导致的结果。在现代经济当中,规模变得越来越重要。掌握海量数据的企业培训机器的效率最高;人人都在使用的社交网络对新用户的吸引力最大;投资者最多的证券交易筹集的资金最多。规模报酬创造较少的超级明星企业,它们聚集在较少的超级明星地区,使其他地区变得落后。

Even as regional disparities widen, people are becoming less mobile. The percentage of Americans who move across state lines each year has fallen by half since the 1990s. The typical American is more footloose than the average European, yet lives less than 30 kilometres from his parents. Demographic shifts help explain this, including the rise in two-earner households and the need to care for ageing family members. But the bigger culprit is poor policies. Soaring housing costs in prosperous cities keep newcomers out. In Europe a scarcity of social housing leads people to hang on to cheap flats. In America the spread of state-specific occupational licensing and government benefits punishes those who move. The pension of a teacher who stays in the same state could be twice as big as that of a teacher who moves mid-career.

虽然区域差距扩大,人口流动性却在减少。90年代以来,每年跨州迁移的美国人比例下降了一半。典型的美国人比普通的欧洲人流动性更大,但居住地离父母不到30公里。人口结构变化是原因之一,包括双职工家庭的增加、照顾年老家庭成员的需要。但更大原因是糟糕的政策,发达城市住房费用的攀升使外来者望而却步,欧洲社会福利住房不足造成人们居住廉价房,各州特有的执业许可制度和政府福利损害迁移人口的利益。相比职涯中期迁移的教师,在一个州工作的教师养老金可高出一倍。

Perversely, policies to help the poor unintentionally exacerbate the plight of left-behind places. Unemployment and health benefits enable the least employable people to survive in struggling places when once they would have had no choice but to move. Welfare makes capitalism less brutal for individuals, but it perpetuates the problems where they live.

事与愿违的是,扶贫政策无意中加剧了落后地区的困境。过去最不具备就业能力的群体除了迁移别无选择,如今失业和医疗保险使他们在贫困地区得以生存。福利使资本主义对于个人不再那般残酷,却加剧了所在区域的困境。

Welcome to the place age

What to do? One answer is to help people move. Thriving places could do more to build the housing and infrastructure to accommodate newcomers. Accelerating the reciprocal recognition of credentials across state or national borders would help people move to where they can be most productive. But greater mobility also has a perverse side-effect. By draining moribund places of talented workers, it exacerbates their troubles. The local tax-base erodes as productive workers leave, even as welfare and pension obligations mount.

问题如何解决?方案之一是促进人口流动。发达地区可大力建造房屋和基础设施来适应外来人口。加快资格证书跨州乃至跨国相互认可,帮助人们向生产力最高的地区迁移。但加快人口流动也会带来事与愿违的副作用,垂死地区人才流失会加剧它们的困境。高效率人才流失会削弱当地的课税基础。同时福利和养老金负债增加。

To avoid these outcomes, politicians have long tried to bolster left-behind places with subsidies. But such “regional policies” have a patchy record, at best. South Carolina lured BMW to the state in 1992 and from it built a thriving automotive cluster. But the EU’s structural funds raise output and reduce unemployment only so long as funding continues. California has 42 enterprise zones. None has raised employment. Better for politicians to focus on speeding up the diffusion of technology and business practices from high-performing places. A beefed-up competition policy could reduce industrial concentration, which saps the economy of dynamism while focusing the gains from growth in fewer firms and places. Fostering clusters by encouraging the creation of private investment funds targeted on particular regions might help.

为了避免这些后果,政客长期靠补贴去扶持落后地区,但这种“区域政策”的效果参差不齐,这还是最好的情况。1992年,南卡罗来纳州吸引宝马公司落户,籍此建成汽车产业集群。但是,欧洲只有不断的提供结构基金,才能增加产量和减少失业。加利福尼亚州有42座创业园区,根本没增加就业。政客应重点加快推广高绩效地区的技术和商业实践。强化竞争政策可减少产业集中,以避免削弱经济活力和聚焦少数企业、地区的增长收益。鼓励企业针对特定区域建立私募投资基金,以此强化产业集群可能有所帮助。

Bolder still would be to expand the mission of local colleges. In the 19th century America created lots of public technical universities. They were supposed to teach best practice to farmers and factory managers in small towns and rural areas. They could play that role again today for new technologies, much as Germany already has a network of applied-research institutions. Politicians might even learn from Amazon, whose search for a home for a second headquarters has set off a scramble among cities hoping to lure the giant etailer. Governments could award public research centres—in the mould of America’s National Institutes of Health or Europe’s CERN—to cities which prepare the best plans for policy reform and public investment. This would aid the diffusion of new ideas and create an incentive for struggling places to help themselves.

更有魄力的举措是赋予地方高校更多使命。19世纪,美国兴办了许多公共技术大学,它们应当向小城镇、乡村的农民、工厂管理人员传授最佳实践。如今,高校可为新技术再次发挥同样的作用,例如德国的应用研究机构已经形成网络。政客甚至可以向亚马逊学习,该公司为第二总部寻找落户地引发城市之间激烈竞争,它们希望吸引零售巨头落户。对于制定了政策改革与公共投资最佳规划的城市,政府应向它们提供公共科研中心作为奖励,例如:美国国家卫生研究院、欧洲核子研究组织。这样做有利于推广新思想,鼓励贫困地区自力更生。

Perhaps most of all, politicians need a different mindset. For progressives, alleviating poverty has demanded welfare; for libertarians, freeing up the economy. Both have focused on people. But the complex interaction of demography, welfare and globalisation means that is insufficient. Assuaging the anger of the left-behind means realising that places matter, too.

也许最重要的是,政客需要改变思维方式。在脱贫问题上,改革派认为需要福利,自由派认为需要开放经济,双方都以人为本。但是,人口结构、福利、全球化之间复杂的相互作用意味着不足以解决问题,安抚愤怒的掉队选民意味着了解这些地区也很重要。

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