No one ever told me that the place I would choose to live was important. I was fortunate enough to be born in northern New Jersey. I was born in the New York metropolitan area, even though I was working class that gave me a lot of opportunities and stimulation.
Someone born in Africa or parts of Middle East that are violent, would have more limited life prospects. However, we are mobile. My grandparents moved from southern Italy to the United States and now I think we’re more mobile, even though mobility has moved back a little bit in the current time with the recession. We are never immobile. We have global mobility. People with capability from China, from India, from the Middle East can come wherever. They can move to opportunity, move to great universities. So picking that right place, not only to go to school, but where to live and work, the reason it’s so important is that where we live structures so many of our other life options.
Obviously it gives us access to education, great schools, better universities. It certainly structures our career network. Some places have more in the way of entertainment. You know, someone once wrote if you want to make it in entertainment you better go to New York or L.A. or good luck trying to make it at the frontier of the entertainment business somewhere else. Technology: Silicon Valley, Seattle, Silicon Alley in New York and so on.
I always say other than picking a place to live, I think it’s not only important what you do for your life but your choice of life made. And we know that there are more single people, young people, eligible people in some places than others. Sure, the world is flat for low-cost jobs or if you’re setting up a manufacturing plant, or you’re looking for advantage globally. But for many other things the world is concentrated, clustered, and spiky.
And I think unfortunately that is dividing our world. But for people who are looking to get ahead in their career, wanting to have a better life, they’re looking at a smaller number of locations than they would have in the past. The one thing that’s great about the United States is that the United States has a number of those locations. The United States probably has as many of those locations as the rest of the world combined when you look at all our different sizes and scales of great cities.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy fo Shutterstock.