Big Tech, Immigration, and Causes of Death
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Big Tech Revenue vs. LatAm’s GDP
Latin America accounts for 52% of immigrants into the US
What are we most likely to die of?
Make sure you check out the comment of the week at the bottom!
A new book, Streets of Gold, is shining a light on myths about US immigration using data. For instance, it details how the immigrants of today, 43% of which come from Latin American countries, are just as likely to move up the economic ladder as their European counterparts in the 1800s and early 1900s.
In the 1900s, Europeans accounted for about 86% of all immigration into the US. And just like Europeans shaped the demographics of the US population in the past century, Latin America (followed by Asia) is shaping the next generation of immigrants, giving the country a variety of cultures like never before.
Leah Boustan and Ran Abramitzky, the economic researchers behind the book, detail countless stories of children with immigrant parents that do exceptionally well, even better on average than children of US-born citizens.
One of those success stories is Gisel Ruiz, who worked the farm fields of Central Valley, California at a young age. Gisel was encouraged by her Mexican parents to pursue a college degree. She graduated from marketing at the local university and went on to become a top executive at Walmart. She's now part of the board of directors at several companies, including telecom giant Univision.
The authors of Streets of Gold explain that much of the immigration shift seen on the chart is best explained by socioeconomic development. European countries have become increasingly wealthy in the modern world, with excellent social programs. These make the incentive to move out of Europe low. Thus unsurprisingly, it's primarily citizens (like Gisel's parents) of developing nations pursuing the "American dream." Mexico has been the top source of US immigrants since 1980, and it now accounts for 24% of the total. Thanks to Boustan and Abramitzky's work, we know they're assimilating well into the culture and actively participating in the economy, unlike many narratives often claim.
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Rest of World is “a new global nonprofit publication covering the impact of technology beyond the Western bubble.”
Big Tech 👁️🗨️
When people talk about countries being afraid of companies' clout, they're referring to this. Companies led by a handful of individuals have revenues comparable to some countries' entire GDPs. That illustrates the increasingly significant power and reach that Big Tech has in the world. Some governments, like Bolivia's, have created entire cyber-police forces with a single Big Tech company in mind.
Hugo Miranda of the Fundación Internet Bolivia says that when the country's informal commerce sector migrated online, it did so almost exclusively onto Facebook. The Bolivian government has been, therefore, at the mercy of Meta's arbitrary rules when addressing issues as delicate as child pornography or the illegal traffic of drugs and people.
But companies' sizes can be misleading. Distribution is also essential. Amazon may well be equivalent to the fourth biggest economy in Latin America. Still, the resources Amazon deploys in the region are nowhere near the amount seen on the graph. Amazon is not even the top e-commerce company in Latin America.
Argentinean-founded MercadoLibre, Amazon's main e-commerce competitor in the region, leads its rival in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil — in these latter two, by a country mile. Now consider that, apart from being Latin America's three biggest countries in terms of GDP, they also make up 95% of MercadoLibre's revenue in the region.
Yet, on this graph, MercadoLibre would be a tiny slither, with revenue adding up to just shy of the GDP of Nicaragua. The difference is that Latin America is MercadoLibre's entire market; for Amazon, Latin America is almost an afterthought, with a tiny amount of its revenue coming from the region.
Note: To learn more about how tech is shaping LatAm, subscribe to Rest of World’s Latin American Newsletter
If you're 15 to 49 years old and in Latin America, violence is the most likely event to kill you.
The good news is that your chances of dying are pretty low overall if you're in this age group. Our chart depicts the causes of death only for people 15 to 49 years old, which is a comparatively healthy group. We picked this category because the variability by country is intriguing. In young and old age, the usual diseases and health complications are more likely to take lives globally; between 15-49, however, different countries have different problems.
Over one-fifth of 15 to 49-year-olds’ deaths in LatAm are due to violence, making it the leading cause of death. Violence is among the top three causes of death for 11 out of LatAm's 20 countries. For comparison:
The World's leading cause of death is heart disease, and violence is not in the top 3
The US' leading cause of death is drug use, and violence is not in the top 3
Europe & Central Asia's leading cause is also heart disease, and violence is not in the top 3
And in second place? Cancer, which accounts for 15% of 15 to 49-year-olds' deaths. All LatAm countries count Cancer as one of their top 3 causes of death, the only exception being the Dominican Republic. Heart disease is the third leading cause of death, accounting for about 13% of the total. This is on par with the rest of the World, as cardiovascular diseases account for around 18% of global deaths.
Some interesting outliers: Paraguay & Ecuador are the only two countries in the region where road injuries are the top killer. In Paraguay, around half of all deaths in this category involve motorcycles — a number that rises to 60% in the capital. Chile & Uruguay also differ from the rest; suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in both countries — accounting for 13% and 16% of deaths, respectively. Interestingly, these two countries are also among LatAm's most developed and have some of the lowest rates of violence.
Realize Latin America’s Potential 🚀
This week’s opportunity:
The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) is hiring a Senior Technical Advisor in Sustainable Finance in Brasília 🇧🇷
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That’s all for this week 👋
Comment of the Week in response to our avocado production chart. Apparently, the explosive growth of the avocado industry has come with consequences.
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