Our world is awash in challenges, from global health problems to climate change to economic hardship. Fortunately, there are very smart people working on these problems at some of our finest institutions. For example, two scientists at MIT, noting that people felt 2016 was an especially bad year for celebrity deaths, decided to calculate whether it really was such a bad year and whether coming years will bring even proportionately more celebrity deaths. At the link you can see all the math, charts and graphs but the bottom line is the number of famous people dying each year is increasing because each year there are more famous people than there used to be. 2016 seems particularly bad because there were more “especially famous” kicking the bucket. But rest assured, the MIT researchers tell us, we do not need to worry about more and more famous people passing away each year because “we may soon reach a time when what will limit the number of famous people we produce will no longer be our means of communication, but our limited attention and human memory.” Even as we forget the name of that singer who died last week we remember to tell you of automobile jobs around the world, the use of solar in developing countries and great progress on malaria. It’s this week’s International Need to Know, working for our star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one data chart at a time.
Automobile manufacturers have been in the news recently as people assert where cars should and should not be built. This got us to thinking about which countries manufacturer the most number of cars and which countries have the most automobile industry workers. These two lists are very different with the exception of China and the U.S. claiming the top two spots on both (see table below). Russia has the fourth-largest number of auto workers even though it’s not even in the top ten for auto production (Putin’s regime ranks only 14th in production). Mexico is the seventh-largest producer of cars but builds these autos with relatively little labor, ranking only 17th in number of workers. We expect the number of auto workers to fall in the coming years as such work continues to be automated. And what will be the effect on the number of autos produced with the advent of self-driving cars and the continued rise of ride sharing? Will China continue to have 1.6 million auto workers? Will Mexico have a larger market share of cars produced than the U.S.? Will it matter in terms of number of workers? We need Marty McFly’s DeLorean to find out, or, alas, merely wait a few years.