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Good post. My hunch is the same. Mostly from reading stuff on the web (including comments). But I've no idea whether Canadians view it the same or differently.

Since a comment box is probably as good as any a place to vent, and I am currently closing a 52 year-old grocery store at the gates of the University of British Columbia campus, and have a great deal of things to vent about, let me put this as generally as possible:

We have, since WWII, built an educational complex state on the premise that there is a supply-side solution to technological progress. The collapse in productivity increases over the last three decades very strongly suggests that there is not. I could tell stories about algorithm-driven, computer-assisted grocery ordering that might illuminate the failure of our last, best hope for such improvements; but the plural of anecdote is not data, and does anyone want to hear the saga of the Computer That Can't Order Carrot Juice? If we're not buying technological progress, what are we buying?

The first and most obvious answer is that the Educational Complex State is buying low wages. Supply-side solutions to labour shortages ought to buy cheaper engineers, but what we are getting instead (or, perhaps, as well as) low-cost engineers, is below-subsistence entry level wages in urban retail. This is a bad, bad thing, for everyone except shareholders --who should not be slighted in this, inasmuch as we are all shareholders in this getting-ready-to-retire society.

But there's more to it than that. Something alarming is going on --our society is not reproducing itself, and you don't have to be some kind of nativist maniac to see that immigration isn't a solution, because our immigrants don't reproduce themselves, either. Believe me, I know a lot more immigrants than you probably do, and they're in a worse situation than the locals.

So let's look at my anecdote in a little more detail.

i)The store is closing because a high-income, core urban Vancouver community with multi-million dollar homes, is depopulating, pushing traffic through our tills down. It's hard to come up with a single explanation for this, but losing anchor retail typically means a further unravelling of the local retail scene. This neighbourhood of multi-million dollar single-residence-occupancy homes commands a price premium because it is close to St. George's and Lord Byng. Both schools draw from outside their neighbourhood catchment, but it's not hard to see the problem when the people buying into the neigbourhood can't afford to live here!

iii) Employees in their forties and even fifties, often with children at home, are abruptly placed in positions of severe financial insecurity, notwithstanding a record low unemployment rate and consistent and reliable demand for their skills, because they can't reasonably expect to maintain their income if they change employers. Everyone feels threatened by that, and the threat acts to repress wage demands.

iv) This makes it look like workers at a "preferred employer" made a mistake in building families. If a Safeway employee can't responsibly have children, who can?

v) Fewer children means fewer students, so that keeping the Educational Complex State going, will be that much harder. It is hard to understand how the decline in the university-age cohort in the last decade hasn't had serious consequences for university enrollment. No, strike that, I have a pretty clear idea of how enrollment has been maintained, and I expect to see negative consequences.

Erik - thanks for sharing those thoughts. I hope you find something else soon. I used to live just opposite that Safeway, sorry to hear it's closing.

On your comment "built an educational complex state on the premise that there is a supply-side solution to technological progress. The collapse in productivity increases over the last three decades very strongly suggests that there is not"

I might put it slightly differently. A lot of policy has been based upon the assumption that productivity growth leads to wage growth. For a long time, that was a reasonable assumption. However in recent years productivity has been growing, but wages haven't been growing as rapidly - productivity and wage growth has diverged see, e.g. this OECD report. This partly explains why Safeway employees can't afford to have kids. And speaking of wages/productivity decoupling: Wasn't/isn't Safeway unionized? And what's the betting that whatever replaces Safeway isn't?

I'm wondering also how much income inequality is part of the Safeway story - is Vancouver becoming polarized into Whole Food shoppers and Walmart/Food Basics/other discount retailers shoppers? Do stores catering to the middle classes disappear along with the middle class?

> Another possibility is feminization of the professoriate.

I'm not so sure about this explanation. The professoriate has been changing gradually over time, but your survey results suggest that something different happened between 2005-2013 than between the other surveys.

Maybe the simplest explanation is economic. To my eye, the 1982 and 1995 results are reasonably consistent with the idea of those graduates facing a difficult labour market. In 2013, the 2010-era graduates would have gone through school during the 2008-era recession (and faced presumably reduced opportunities for internships and co-op jobs) and graduated into a still-tough labour market. But if I recall correctly, this recession was also gendered: stereotypically female-majority professions like nursing and teaching were more stably-supported by the public sector than private sector, male-majority counterparts.

Even if on average male-dominated fields had better economic outcomes, the response to this survey would be based on whether a student's experience met their expectations. My hunch is that there was a bigger expectation-versus-reality gap for a would-be (male) Computer Science student admitted to university in 2006 and graduating in 2010 than for a would-be female nursing student over the same period.

Majromax: "The professoriate has been changing gradually over time, but your survey results suggest that something different happened between 2005-2013 than between the other surveys."

Good point. I need to think about it. People who write about feminization talk about "tipping points" - idea is going from, say, 2 to 10% female has no effect, going from 80 to 90% female has no efffect, but there's a critical range where professions "tip" from being associated with one gender to being associated with the other. But this isn't a very strong counter to your argument.

You're also right about the "he-cession" the 2009/10 grads would have faced.

On the male computer science students - they're happy. See this post: http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2018/04/do-students-opting-for-liberal-arts-degrees-regret-it.html. The unhappy campers are in social, behavioural, physical and life sciences. Now it might be that male social science grads have higher aspirations than female social science grads, so are less likely to have those aspirations fulfilled. Or that female grads with general degrees can fairly easily slot into "pink collar jobs" (receptionist, admin assistant, etc) that men don't usually apply for/get considered for.

> On the male computer science students - they're happy.

Thank you for the correction; my guess was wrong, or at least doubtful that their happiness would have been so much higher in 2005 as to skew the data.

> The unhappy campers are in social, behavioural, physical and life sciences. Now it might be that male social science grads have higher aspirations than female social science grads, so are less likely to have those aspirations fulfilled.

That could be, but that (and my similar hypothesis) also conflicts with your finding of a high correlation between degree satisfaction and labour-market earnings. If satisfaction rates by field are similar between 1982 and 2013 surveys and satisfaction is closely related to earnings, then this would suggest one of two possibilities:

1) After controlling for field women are still more likely to be satisfied, suggesting that they are out-earning their male peers, or:
2) Gender segregation between fields is occurring on a finer level than seen in the aggregates. (This would be 'a physicist is a man, a biologist is a woman')

"Pink collar jobs" might work as an explanation for the first part, where graduates of all sorts are underemployed but women have a better time of it. There may be a very slight basis for this in the data, as well: the employment rate (LFS/Cansim) for the 25-54 demographic for men in 2005 (July) was 86.0% and in 2013 was 85.2%, but for women the 2005 rate was 76.5% and in 2013 was 78.2%. (The 20-24 data for men was 70.3/69.3 and for women was 70.6/67.0, but this might be confounded by changes in attendance rates?)

Majromax - "2) Gender segregation between fields is occurring on a finer level than seen in the aggregates. " Almost certainly true.
1) After controlling for field women are still more likely to be satisfied, suggesting that they are out-earning their male peers. " Could check that out with the 1982 data (don't have field in the 2013 PUMF) and will later today if I have time. It would be a good thing to check for.

Not to threadjack or anything, but given the 10th and Sasamat Safeway store's place in Canadian university life over the last fifty years, I thought I would share a link:
http://vancouver.ca/docs/planning/west-point-grey-community-vision-full-report.pdf

The relevant decisions are buried deep in the document, but for those who have never had occasion to shop at a grocery store while attending UBC, the Safeway grocery store just outside the university gates is almost a full block of land with an amazing vista of Vancouver's outer harbour, most of it under-utilised parking lot. It was bought by Sun Life in the mid-90s, the company retaining a twenty (twenty-five?) year lease, up this year. Per the planning document, the only allowable change in site usage that seem not to be ruled out would be a redevelopment as single-family residences! That's quite the white elephant that Sun Life has on its hands. (It's ironic that the people most likely to be hurt by Sun-Life underperforming on its financials are the kind of people who live in single family residences in West Point Grey and turn out for community planning meetings.)

I'm not privy to the negotiations between my employer and Sun-Life. Given the labour shortage, there's actually some appeal to closing some of our stores. If we can't staff them with the people we have, redistributing scarce labour away from underperfoming stores makes sense. (I'm already being "redistributed:" I'm working at 10th and Sasamat, ,but my seniority is at our Oakridge store, which will close for business when the zombies break through the barricades on the door, and not a moment before.) That being said, the issue is whether Sobey's/Safeway couldn't meet Sun Life's rental demands, or whether Sun-Life is just going to close the business down and establish another "community garden" as a big FU to the West Point Grey NIMBYs.

Do I need to dwell on the complete insanity of "community gardens" spreading across the west side of Vancouver? Meanwhile, and per Frances' question above, while our company is closing almost a third of its stores in the Lower Mainland, this is the headline number. Actually, only five are being closed for good, and four are basically euthanasia. The other five are slated to reopen as discount/ethnic outlets, because the company recognises that the middle class is disappearing --As it fires managers and merchandisers, lets pharmacists go, and demotes departmental managers.

Erik, certain threadjacks are allowed on WCI: cars, canoes, and hometown news.

That's a fascinating story about the Sun-Life development. I was just a talk Kevin Milligan (the UBC tax/policy/finance guy) gave yesterday and he was talking about some of the insane politics in the upcoming Vancouver election - with the YIMBYs (yes in my back yard), also the forming of a coalition to tax the wealth of the rich. It will be really interesting to see how it goes.

Thanks for sharing all of this.

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