Florida_The World is Spiky

Florida_The World is Spiky - THE WORLD IN NUMBERS The World...

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T he world, according to the title of the New York Times colum- s nist Thomas Friedman’s book, is fl at. Thanks to advances in technology, the global playing ± eld has been leveled, the prizes are there for the taking, and everyone’s a player no matter where on the surface of the earth he or she may reside. “In a fl at world,” Friedman writes, “you can innovate without hav- ing to emigrate.” Friedman is not alone in this belief: for the better part of the past century economists have been writing about the leveling effects of technology. From the invention of the telephone, the automobile, and the airplane to the rise of the personal computer and the Internet, technological progress has steadily eroded the economic impor- tance of geographic place or so the argument goes. But in partnership with colleagues at George Mason University and the geographer Tim Gulden, of the Center for International and Security Stud- ies, at the University of Maryland, I’ve begun to chart a very different eco- nomic topography. By almost any measure the international economic landscape is not at all fl at. On the con- trary, our world is amazingly “spiky.” In terms of both sheer economic horse- power and cutting-edge innovation, States as a whole and Japan. New York’s economy alone is about the size of Rus- sia’s or Brazil’s, and Chicago’s is on a par with Sweden’s. Together New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston have a bigger economy than all of China. If U.S. metropolitan areas were countries, they’d make up forty-seven of the big- gest 100 economies in the world. Unfortunately, no single, compre- hensive information source exists for the economic production of all the world’s cities. A rough proxy is available, though. Map B shows a variation on the widely circulated view of the world at night, with higher concentrations of light indicating higher energy use and, presumably, stronger economic produc- tion appearing in greater relief. U.S. regions appear almost Himalayan on this map. From their summits one might look out on a smaller mountain range stretching across Europe, some isolated peaks in Asia, and a few scattered hills throughout the rest of the world. THE AGENDA TH E ATLANTIC MO NT H LY 49 Population and economic activity are both spiky, but it’s innovation the engine of economic growth that is most concentrated. The World Intellec- tual Property Organization recorded about 300,000 patents from resident inventors in more than a hundred nations in 2002 (the most recent year for which statistics are available). Nearly two thirds of them went to American and Japanese inventors. Eighty-± ve per- cent went to the residents of just ± ve countries (Japan, the United States, South Korea, Germany, and Russia). Worldwide patent statistics can be
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Florida_The World is Spiky - THE WORLD IN NUMBERS The World...

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