A ‘creative crescent’ of northern European countries is challenging the economic power of the United States and ‘old Europe,’ according to a new index called Europe in the Creative Age .
Richard Florida, author of the best-selling book The Rise of the Creative Class, and Irene Tinagli show how countries such as Finland, Denmark and Sweden are leading the traditionally powerful European economies of France and Germany. Although the UK has a strong creative class, it is not growing its innovation and technology capacity as quickly as its Nordic neighbours.
The report was developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Industry Center with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and is published in Europe by Demos, a London-based think tank.
The top five countries in the Euro-Creativity Index are Sweden, the United States, Finland, Netherlands and Denmark. The report also looks at growth trends, with Ireland coming top by showing “extraordinary growth” in its creative capacity. Other countries included in the study are Greece, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Spain and Belgium.
The research ranks European countries according to three interlinked factors – the 3Ts of economic growth – which Florida and Tinagli argue are indicators of a country’s creative potential: talent, technology and tolerance.
Tolerant societies are able to attract talented people who contribute to technological innovation. In The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida showed how jobs are now following people, rather than the other way round. His emphasis on tolerance comes from the recognition that creative people prefer to live in places which are ethnically and socially diverse.
But perhaps the most striking result is the poor performance of the United States, which is losing ground to the creative crescent of northern European countries. It placed second behind Sweden on the overall creativity index and fell to 10th out of 14 countries in terms of growth of creative capabilities in recent years.
“The United States may well be losing its long-established edge in attracting the brightest and best talent from around the world,” Florida and Tinagli stated.
“There is a growing perception around the world that the United States is becoming less welcoming to people from other countries. Its direct policies restricting the flow of individuals and scientific information – such as severely limiting stem cell research – have chilled the climate for creative talent. This is happening at the same time other countries are increasing their efforts to attract top talent.”
The researchers looked at a range of indicators including investment in research and development, patents and the proportion of university-educated people. In his creative index of American cities, Florida looked at ethnic diversity and the number of gay people as indicators of tolerance.
This data is not available in Europe, so the researchers looked at values and attitudes research. Nordic countries such as Finland and Sweden do well as open and tolerant societies, although they are not ethnically diverse.
“While several European countries have liberalized their immigration policies, this has often led to a backlash which leaves the debate about managing migration unresolved,” wrote Tom Bentley, director of Demos, in a foreword to Europe in the Creative Age. “But as this report shows, values associated with tolerance are stronger in Europe than the U.S.”
Notes to editors
1.Richard Florida is the Heinz professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Management and Public Policy and a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution. Irene Tinagli is a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon.
2.Demos is an independent think tank based in London. It has launched a major work program called The Next City, which looks at creativity and urban renewal.