It’s not that gays equal growth, or that more bohemians make a place more innovative. Rather, an open culture, one that encourages and fosters self-expression, is a key ingredient in innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, and ultimately growth. Open places encourage and foster new ideas. They attract new and different kinds of people.
I fully agree that places hoping to attract productive people need to support the sort of cultures those people prefer. And yes, in our world today many productive and well-educated people like local cultures emphasizing aspects of bohemian self-expression and ethnic diversity. What I dispute is the idea that the cultural preferences of productive people cause those people to be innovative. I claim instead that those same people would contribute about as much innovation to the economy even if they were forced to live in areas that less supported bohemian self-expression. For the most part, innovation is just not caused by people trying to express themselves.
“Isn’t the main problem our education system, which squelches people’s creativity?” I’m no education expert, but I have to agree. Sometimes I think our great research universities will save us, but then I recall what the always-prescient Peter Drucker liked to say. He says, more or less, that the university won’t “survive” the transition to knowledge-based capitalism.
Yes, the education system squelches creativity; that is what it was designed to do and that is one of the main reasons educated people are valued. Relative to the needs of most jobs, people are inclined to be more creative than would be productive. School is mostly about sorting out who is smarter and more diligent, and learning the habit of showing up day after day to somewhat boring jobs with ambiguous instructions.