It's a big issue, I know. I've been working on it with Charlotta Mellander, a Swedish researcher, and our first foray is this report on Sweden. In a nutshell, the report shows that the creative class measure of occupations significantly outperforms the conventional (education-based) human capital measure. It examines how different kinds of creative talent, including specific occupational groups, like scientists and engineers, and artists, designer and entertainers affect development. And it shows how three dimensions of quality of place - universities, amenities and diversity of consumer services and tolerance - shape the geographic distribution of human capital and the creative class. We are now working on a similar study of the United States. A short except from the executive summary:
While there is consensus on the importance of human capital to economic development, debate takes shape around two central issues. First, there is the question of how best to measure human capital. The conventional measure of human capital is based on educational attainment (share of population with a bachelor’s degree and above). But more recent research suggests that it is more important to measure what people do than what they study, and thus occupationally based measures, associated principally with creative class occupations, have been introduced. Second, there is debate over the factors that yield the geographic distribution of human capital in the first place. Three alternative factors have been found to play a role: universities; amenities (measured here as diversity of service industries); and openness and tolerance. We find that the creative class measures outperform conventional educational measures in accounting for regional development across our sample of Swedish regions. We also find that universities, amenities or service diversity, and openness and tolerance affect the distribution of human capital. These factors do not operate in competition with one another, but tend to attract or affect different types of talent. They can be thus said to play complementary roles in the geographic distribution of talent.