1/OK, I should really write another thread about university-centric regional development, because I think people often make some (very understandable) mistakes when thinking about this issue.

2/The biggest myth, I think, is that universities help regions by educating locals as undergraduates.

Skeptics of universities say: "But most of the people who graduate end up leaving."
3/In fact, most of what a university does for a regional economy is NOT about educating local kids.

Educating local kids is good for the nation, but doesn't help a region much.

The way a university helps a region is through RESEARCH.

4/Undergraduates usually leave town after graduation.

But university RESEARCH pulls in OTHER smart people from other regions, and they stay there.

Here's a paper showing that this is the main way universities increase a region's human capital: https://t.co/ofu256tsFi
5/Research also pulls in business investment.

Companies want to partner with university labs, so they can commercialize the technologies the labs produce. So they invest in the labs, and sometimes they even put their offices in the town.
6/So should we be worried that college enrollment is dropping?

Answer: A little bit. But mainly because this means less tuition money that can be used to fund university research labs.
7/Yes, it would be great if universities were allowed to admit more foreign students (who pay high tuition that can be used to fund research labs that draw in smart workers and business investment).

BUT, the most important thing is to fund research more!!
8/Myth #2 is the idea that a university only helps a region if it creates a new technology cluster - a "next Silicon Valley".

Critics of university-centric development like to point out that the probability of succeeding at this is very low.

But this doesn't really matter.
9/Universities help regions even when they don't become the "next Silicon Valley".

My hometown of College Station is no Silicon Valley. But College Station, and its surrounding region, are thriving thanks to a university.

10/Even a humble, non-prestigious university can help a declining region in real, important ways.

Beyond the research-and-investment thing I discussed earlier, universities also draw in residents from small towns, creating pleasant small cities.
11/And even if a town doesn't become a tech cluster, universities can help local business, government, and nonprofit leaders plan local industrial development.

12/Finally, Myth #3 is the idea that university-centric development needs prestigious universities like Harvard to build new branch campuses.

In fact, this is unlikely to be a useful approach. https://t.co/uxUcLHzmON
13/We already HAVE tons of universities and colleges in almost all regions of America.

What we have to do is UPGRADE the RESEARCH CAPABILITIES of the second- and third-tier universities.
14/How do we upgrade existing 2nd- and 3rd-tier universities?

1. By spending more research dollars there

2. By encouraging companies to partner with the labs there

3. By letting these universities admit more high-paying foreign students

4. A new land grant program?
15/To sum up, the three big myths of university-centric development are:

1. The myth that education is the main thing universities do for a town

2. The myth that universities need to create the "next Silicon Valley"

3. The myth that new branch campuses are the answer
16/University-centric regional development is about research. It's about drawing in businesses. It's about drawing in people and creating a pleasant, efficient city in a declining region. It's about coordinating leadership to boost local growth.

And it works.


More from Noah Smith

Time for panel #3: Big Tech and regulation!

I will be live-tweeting again, and you can also watch video at either the Twitter or Facebook links below!

Kaissar: Every industry gets regulated when it gets big. The question is what kind of regulation Big Tech will get,and whether the companies will be proactive in shaping it.

Kaissar: More profitable companies have higher returns. Why? Maybe it's a risk factor, because more profit = higher risk of getting regulated.

Bershidskyis showing a diagram of GDPR complaince pop-ups. What a massive ill-conceived bureaucratic mess.

Ritholtz: It's 2018 and we're still talking about Facebook privacy settings?! If you're still giving your personal data to Facebook, you just don't care about privacy!
1/I'm thinking about the end of Apu in the context of the national debates on immigration and diversity.

2/Apu's presence in Springfield represented a basic reality of America in the late 20th and early 21st century: the presence of nonwhite immigrants.

3/As Tomas Jimenez writes in "The Other Side of Assimilation", for my generation, immigrants from India, China, Mexico, and many other countries aren't strange or foreign. On the contrary, they're a

4/But that America I grew up with is fundamentally ephemeral. The kids of immigrants don't retain their parents' culture. They merge into the local culture (and, as Jimenez documents, the local culture changes to reflect their influence).

5/Simpsons character don't change. But real people, and real communities, do. So a character who once represented the diversity that immigrants brought to American towns now represents a stereotype of Indian-Americans as "permanent foreigners".
When Republicans started to believe in racial bloc voting - when they stopped believing that nonwhite people could ever be persuaded to vote Republican - they started to see immigration as an invasion.

This explains why immigration is now at the center of partisan conflict.

Of course, the belief in ethnic bloc voting becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When a slight Dem tilt among Hispanics and Asians caused the GOP to turn against them, Hispanics and Asians shifted more toward the Dems. Etc. etc. A self-reinforcing cycle.

Bush's 2006 amnesty attempt, and the 2013 intra-GOP fight over immigration reform, were two moments when the GOP could have turned back to the approach of Reagan, and courted Hispanics and Asians.

But they decided against this, and...here we are.

What will disrupt this bad equilibrium, and save American politics from being an eternal race war?

A) More white voters will grow disgusted with the GOP approach and defect, or
B) The GOP will find some non-immigration-related issues to attract more Hispanics and Asians.

As long as both parties see elections in terms of racial bloc voting - where the only way to win is to increase turnout among your own racial blocs or suppress turnout by the other party's racial blocs - American politics will not improve, and the country will decline.


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The UN just voted to condemn Israel 9 times, and the rest of the world 0.

View the resolutions and voting results here:

The resolution titled "The occupied Syrian Golan," which condemns Israel for "repressive measures" against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights, was adopted by a vote of 151 - 2 - 14.

Israel and the U.S. voted 'No'

The resolution titled "Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people..." was adopted by a vote of 153 - 6 - 9.

Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and the U.S. voted 'No' https://t.co/1Ntpi7Vqab

The resolution titled "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan" was adopted by a vote of 153 – 5 – 10.

Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and the U.S. voted 'No'

The resolution titled "Applicability of the Geneva Convention... to the
Occupied Palestinian Territory..." was adopted by a vote of 154 - 5 - 8.

Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and the U.S. voted 'No'