This piece from Elaine Pofeldt set me thinking.
In some of the hardest hit economies in Europe, people are taking their talent freelance and using sites like Elance or oDesk to find international work. Elance has seen earnings from freelancers in Spain jump by 142% and in Greece by 122% over the last year. Similarly, outside of Europe, earning for Egyptian freelancers grew by 147%.
Freelancing is growing across Europe (as we noted before) and Pofeldt’s piece seems to point to a prime example of individuals succeeding despite, rather than because of, government.
It reminds me of some research last year from InfoDev on the virtual economy (my summary post, here). In their research, the World Bank project sized the virtual economy in the developing world as being around $3.0 billion, nearly all of which lands in those developing economies (in contrast to the $70 billion global coffee market where only $5.5 billion is captured in those local markets).
Both are examples of individuals reaching beyond the constraints of their local economy / government and creating new markets across the flatter world.
This “eMigration” ( a virtual emigration that requires neither visa nor adapting to a new climate) can only grow. It has been predicted in a stream of books (including The Sovereign Individual, The World Is Flat and last year’s The Shift) and offers enormous opportunity to those who can hone their skills to meet demand.
Perhaps sclerotic government and austerity measures will provide the push for more people to seek opportunity beyond their geographical horizons.