America the Mostly Beautiful


In the fall of 2010, as part of a book project, ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald retraced the route John Steinbeck took in 1960 and turned into his classic “Travels With Charley.” Steigerwald drove 11,276 miles in 43 days from Long Island to the top of Maine to Seattle to San Francisco to New Orleans before heading back to his home in Pittsburgh.  In “Dogging Steinbeck,” his new e-book about how he discovered “Charley” was not nonfiction but a highly fictionalized and dishonest account of Steinbeck’s real trip, Steigerwald describes the America he saw.




"No change since 1960."  read more »

America’s Baby Boom And Baby Bust Cities


At this most familial time of the year, as recent events make us hold our children even closer, we might want to consider what kinds of environments are most conducive to having offspring. Alarm bells are beginning to ring in policy circles over the decline of the U.S. birth rate to a record low. If unaddressed, this could pose a vital threat the nation’s economic and demographic vitality over the next few decades.  read more »

Alleviating World Poverty: A Progress Report


There has been a substantial reduction in both the extreme poverty rate and the number of people living in extreme poverty since the early 1980s, according to information from the World Bank poverty database. The World Bank maintains data on developing world nations, which include both low income and middle income nations. The analysis below summarizes developing world (low and middle income nations) poverty trends from 1981 to the latest available year, 2008 (Table and Figure 1).  read more »

Want to See Better US-Chinese Relations? American and Chinese Millennials Could Be Key


While it is still fashionable for politicians in both China and the United States to prove their domestic leadership credentials by taking tough stances against their nation’s chief economic rival, the results of recent Pew surveys conducted in the two countries suggest that this type of rhetoric is a holdover from an earlier era. An examination of the beliefs among the youngest generational cohorts in each country shows a distinct lack of the ideological vitriol so common in the 1960s and 1970s.  read more »

Aging America: The Cities That Are Graying The Fastest


Notwithstanding plastic surgery, health improvements and other modern biological enhancements, we are all getting older, and the country is too. Today roughly 18.5% of the U.S. population is over 60, compared to 16.3% a decade ago; by 2020 that percentage is expected to rise to 22.2%, and by 2050 to a full 25%.

Yet the graying of America is not uniform across the country — some places are considerably older than others. The oldest metropolitan areas, according to an analysis of the 2010 census by demographer Wendell Cox, have twice as high a concentration of residents over the age of 60 as the youngest. In these areas, it’s already 2020, and some may get to 2050 aging levels decades early.  read more »

Hong Kong’s Decentralizing Commuting Patterns


Hong Kong is a city of superlatives. Hong Kong has at least twice the population density of any other urban area in the more developed world, at 67,000 per square mile or 25,900 per square kilometer. The Hong Kong skyline is rated the world's best by both (a building database) and, which use substantially different criteria.  read more »

What Is a Global City?


We hear a lot of talk these days about so-called “global cities.” But what is a global city?

Saskia Sassen literally wrote the book on global cities back in 2001 (though her global cities work dates back well over a decade prior to that book). She gave a definition that has long struck with me.  read more »

Angry Gran: Mobile Game or Demographic Game-Change?

Angry Gran.png

“Angry Gran” was one of the top mobile app games of 2012 globally. In it, the gamer assumes the persona of a grandmother gone rogue: Angry Gran is angry and needs money! Whack your enemies like piñatas until the cash comes flying out... The objective? Support Gran’s ‘active’ and ‘financially savvy’ retirement by assaulting unsuspecting passers-by with various weapons. If the assault succeeds, Gran steals their money and the gamer’s score rises; if the assault fails, Gran sprains her back and the gamer’s progress is delayed. Given the aging global demographic, one wonders if this sense of humour is best categorized as fiction, or as paradoxical truth?  read more »

The Expanding Economic Pie & Grinding Poverty


A review of data from the past 200 years indicates not only a huge increase in the world's population, but an even more significant increase in real incomes. This is illustrated using the data series developed by the late Angus Maddison of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that included historic estimates of economic performance by geographical area (nations and other reported geographies) from 1500 to 2000.  read more »

Where Americans Are Moving


The red states may have lost the presidential election, but they are winning new residents, largely at the expense of their politically successful blue counterparts. For all the talk of how the Great Recession has driven people — particularly the “footloose young” — toward dense urban centers, Census data reveal that Americans are still drawn to the same sprawling Sun Belt regions as before.  read more »