From the 1940s to the 1970s, each year around 3.5 percent of Americans packed up and moved to a new state. These days the annual rate is less than half that.We also start fewer businesses (even in the tech sector), and segregation by race, income, and political persuasion is significantly up.
In short, despite our self-proclaimed reverence for innovation, Americans seem to be less adventurous these days. That's the argument of economist Tyler Cowen's new book, The Complacent Class, which uses a bevy of statistics to paint a picture of Americans as an increasingly comfort-loving, bubble-living group deeply in danger of losing our mojo.
Reviewers, whether they entirely agree with the book's central premise or not, have uniformly praised it as thought-provoking, prodding readers to consider what's happened to cause Americans to become less dynamic. But the book also raises a smaller scale question -- have you personally grown a little too comfortable?
Are you living in a bubble?
Learning, creativity, and discovery all depend on a willingness to step out of your comfort zone and experience new things, meet people from different backgrounds, and have your most fundamental ideas challenged. Complacent people might be comfortable, but they don't grow and they don't produce great ideas -- or great companies.
So how can you know if you're personally contributing to this flight away from the new, scary, different, and valuable? Cowen is offering a quick quiz to help you find out.
Asking about everything from how you get your groceries and choose your music, to how similar you are to your partner, the questions can raise some uncomfortable questions, but if you're living your life cocooned away from life-expanding experience, wouldn't you want to know it?
Be warned, Cowen has pretty high standards for risk-taking though. I've lived in four countries in the last ten years and the quiz told me I was a bit too comfortable and needed to try more new things.
But hey, maybe it's right. While I've lived with educated professionals across the world, I rarely get a chance (except, of course, when I go home to visit family) to connect to those in a different socioeconomic bracket or with wildly different political beliefs.
Take the quiz here.
Do you think Americans are becoming too complacent and risk averse?