Global Competition, In Perspective
For every one Western 17-year-old boy there are about 28 Chinese boys the same age working twice as hard to get the lifestyle that our one Western kid assumes will be his.
Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where he served for 12 years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.
He is the author of 14 books. His first, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927, was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award, while the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, was a UK bestseller. In 1998 he published to international critical acclaim The Pity of War: Explaining World War One and The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild. The latter won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and was also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award.
His latest book is The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook (2017).
I have a teenage son and a teenage daughter. They’re not in college yet, but they soon will be. I think a lot about what the teenage generation has to look forward to. I don’t want to depress you or scare you, but it is a much more competitive and challenging world than the world that I was looking at when I was 17 - 30 long years ago.
One way of thinking about this is to say that, for every one Western 17-year-old boy there are about 28 Chinese boys the same age working twice as hard to get the lifestyle that our one Western kid assumes will be his. The expectations of people in their late teens in North America and Europe may be unrealistic because of the magnitude of the competition. It just wasn’t a worry for me. You know, I wasn’t competing with my Chinese contemporaries.
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