Displacements between People and the Availability of Work

 (This is a current extract from the Patterns of Power Repository.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition02/3431.htm)

The geography of wealth creation is partly correlated with concentrations of people as customers and partly with the availability of people to supply labour.  But this simple correlation of numbers ignores the geographical displacement between the types of people who are good customers, for example those who are wealthy, and people who are desirable as employees because they have particular skills and don’t demand high wages.  These displacements are increasing:

·      The wealth creation activities are endlessly moving, as described in the previous section (3.4.2).

·      Climate change may lead to some forced migration, leading to competition for land and jobs.

·      Demographics will play a very big part in the geography of labour: ageing populations in rich European countries, and a predominance of young people in poorer African countries for example.[1]

The supply of particular categories of labour is therefore often in a different place from where the jobs are, which results in some places having high unemployment and other places having labour shortages (which lead to high wages).  Such imbalances can persist for several years, but they tend to diminish as corrective movements take place – as reviewed in the next two sections:

·      Some work may move to the people (

      where distance working is possible,

      or where work can be sub-contracted to other companies,

      or where it is cost-effective to set up a subsidiary.

·      Some people are able to move to areas where they can find work (, if there are no social constraints preventing them leaving and if there are no restrictions on their migration to the chosen area.

Neither of these options is simple and both have governance consequences. 

© PatternsofPower.org, 2014

[1] The average European will be 45 years old in 2025, whereas the average African’s age is projected to be 22 at that time, according to Peter Sutherland, in a lecture entitled Europe’s Place in the World in the 21st Century, which was given at the LSE on 22 November 2006.  The transcript of this lecture was available in April 2014 at http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2006/LecturebyPeterSutherland.aspx.