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The San Diego region scored the top ranking on the nation’s “Tolerance Index,” The Atlantic magazine reports in a larger piece on The Rise of the Creative Class – Revisited, a book penned by Richard Florida, also the article’s author. The work follows a theme that expanding creativity is reshaping our economic and cultural landscapes.

In assembling the Tolerance Index, Kevin Stolarick of the Martin Prosperity Institute considered three factors: the proportion of a metro area’s population that are foreign-born; the Gay Index (measuring the concentration of gays and lesbians in the population); and the Integration Index, a measure of segregation between racial and ethnic groups.

On a scale of 0 to 1, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ranked at 0.751. The top four regions, and seven of the top 20, were located in California, with San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont coming in 17th.

Florida cites economist Giovanni Peri’s research suggesting that immigrants perform both high- and low-level work that complements the native population, thus adding value to a community that integrates foreigners into its population. At the low end, immigrants occupy labor-intensive jobs such as cooking, driving, and building that Americans tend not to do. On the high end, educated workers such as engineers migrate to areas they’re welcomed and contribute scientific, technical, and entrepreneurial skills to the community.

“Openness to gays and lesbians similarly reflects an ecosystem that is open to new people and new ideas,” Florida writes. “A strong and vibrant gay community is a solid leading indicator of a place that is open to many different kinds of people.”

This, he posits, creates an open forum for creative ideas that can spark new inventions, business models, or scientific or technological breakthroughs. A city that fosters such an environment of tolerance, it follows, is more likely to attract the minds that will develop advancements in all walks of life.

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