In This Review

The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition
The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition
By Richard Florida
HarperBusiness, 2005, 336 pp

This well-written book has a simple thesis: the key to economic growth is innovation, and the key to innovation is properly encouraged human talent. The United States, Florida argues, is in the process of losing its preeminence as a destination for talent from around the world and is underinvesting in potential talent at home -- partly as a result of heavy-handed post-September 11 immigration restrictions, partly because of the attractions of other countries and cities. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Sydney, Wellington, and Toronto, among others, are drawing in energetic talent from around the world. In Florida's view, the key threat to the United States is not China or India; it is losing out to other places that will become the centers of innovation in the future world economy. (In his "global creativity index," based on measures of technology, talent, and tolerance -- the last because creative environments must tolerate people who think differently from the way the dominant group does -- the United States ranks fourth, behind Sweden, Japan, and Finland.) He proposes a two-pronged response: the United States should once again become more hospitable to foreign students and intellectuals -- indeed, to foreigners possessing any skills -- and it should do much more to develop the creative capacity of its indigenous population, particularly the 70 percent of the labor force not currently engaged in creative activities, with a strong emphasis, naturally, on transforming the educational system.