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It’s now tougher (and more expensive) to find big ideas

Big ideas are getting harder and harder to find, and innovations have become increasingly massive and costly endeavors, according to new research.

As a result, tremendous continual increases in research and development will be needed to sustain even today’s low rate of economic growth.

This means modern-day inventors—even those in the league of Steve Jobs—will have a tough time measuring up to the productivity of the Thomas Edisons of the past.

“The only way we’ve been able to roughly maintain growth is to throw more and more scientists at it.”

Nicholas Bloom, senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and coauthor of a paper released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, contends that so many game-changing inventions have appeared since World War II that it’s become increasingly difficult to come up with the next big idea.

“The thought now of somebody inventing something as revolutionary as the locomotive on their own is inconceivable,” Bloom says.

“It’s certainly true if you go back one or two hundred years, like when Edison invented the light bulb,” he says. “It’s a massive piece of technology and one guy basically invented it. But while we think of Steve Jobs and the iPhone, it was a team of dozens of people who created the iPhone.”

To better understand the nation’s sluggish economic growth, Bloom and his three coauthors—SIEPR senior fellow Chad Jones, Stanford doctoral candidate Michael Webb, and MIT professor John Van Reenen—examined research productivity at an aggregate national level as well as within three swaths of industry: technology, medical research, and agriculture. For another measure, they also analyzed research efforts at publicly traded firms.

Their paper follows a common economic concept that economic growth comes from people creating ideas. In other words, when you have more researchers producing more ideas, you get more economic growth.

But Bloom and his team find a not-so-rosy imbalance. While research efforts are rising substantially, research productivity—or the ideas being produced per researcher—is declining sharply.

“The economy has to double its research efforts every 13 years just to maintain the same overall rate of economic growth.”

So the reason the US economy has even grown at all is because steep increases in research and development have more than offset the decline in research productivity, the study finds.

Specifically, the number of Americans engaged in R&D has jumped by more than twentyfold since 1930 while their collective productivity has dropped by a factor of 41.

“It’s getting harder and harder to make new ideas, and the economy is more or less compensating for that,” Bloom says. “The only way we’ve been able to roughly maintain growth is to throw more and more scientists at it.”

The paper spelled it out bluntly in numbers: “The economy has to double its research efforts every 13 years just to maintain the same overall rate of economic growth.”

Less optimism

Bloom initiated this research a year ago, inspired to dig deeper after speaking on a panel at the SIEPR economic summit that discussed “Is the Productivity Slowdown for Real?” He admits the paper—and its somewhat pessimistic analysis—has dampened his previous, more optimistic stance.

“I’ve changed my mind,” Bloom says. “Pretty much all mainstream economists have become rather depressed about productivity growth.”

At the 2016 SIEPR Summit, Bloom was more positive about the nation’s productivity, saying its declining rate was only a temporary effect of the financial crisis of 2008. He even caricatured ways of looking at US productivity levels and contended the up-and-down swings between 1950 and 2010 did not necessarily signal a long-running trend of slow productivity growth.

A year ago, Bloom recalls, “I thought we were recovering from a huge global recession and we’re about to turn around.”

Now, his perspective takes into account new insights that research productivity—one of the underlying components of economic growth—has been clearly dropping for decades.

“This paper says productivity growth is slowing down because ideas are getting harder to find,” Bloom says.

These innovative countries outperform their peers

While the study builds on the earlier work of Jones and others on R&D, the new paper also weaves a tight connection between empirical data on what’s happening in the real world and growth models.

The robust finding of declining idea productivity has implications for future economic research, the paper concludes. The standard assumption in growth models has historically been a constant rate of productivity, and “we believe the empirical work we’ve presented speaks clearly against this assumption,” it states.

Moore’s Law

Everywhere they looked, the researchers say they found clear evidence of how exponential investments in R&D have masked the decline in productivity. The tech industry’s signature guidepost, Moore’s Law, which marked its 52nd year in April, is a prime example.

Introduced in 1965 by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of computer chip giant Intel, the theorem postulates that the density of transistors on an integrated circuit would double roughly every two years, doubling computing power.

Moore’s Law has certainly played out—the computing power on a chip today is remarkable compared to even a decade ago—but the study found that the research effort behind the chip innovations rose by a factor of 78 since 1971.

To spur innovation, teach A.I. to find analogies

Put another way, the number of researchers required today to maintain that innovative pace is more than 75 times larger than the number that was required in the early 1970s.

“The constant exponential growth implied by Moore’s Law has been achieved only by a staggering increase in the amount of resources devoted to pushing the frontier forward,” the paper states.

Other industries also exhibited falloffs in idea productivity.

For instance, to measure productivity in agriculture, the study’s coauthors used crop yields of corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton and compared them against research expenditures directed at improving yields, including cross-breeding, bioengineering, crop protection, and maintenance.

The average yields across all four crops roughly doubled between 1960 and 2015. But to achieve those gains, the amount of research expended during that period rose “tremendously”—anywhere from a threefold to a more-than-25-fold increase, depending on the crop and specific research measure.

On average, research productivity in agriculture fell by about 4 to 6 percent per year, the study finds.

A similar pattern of greater input but less output followed in medical research. The study’s authors analyzed R&D spending on new, federally approved drugs against life expectancy rates as a gauge of productivity. They also examined decreases in mortality rates of cancer patients against medical research publications and clinical trials.

The empirical findings on breast and heart cancer suggest that at least in some areas, “it may get easier to find new ideas at first before getting harder,” the paper states.

Turning its focus to publicly traded companies, the study found a fraction of firms where research productivity—as measured by growth in sales, market capitalization, employment, and revenue-per-worker productivity—grew decade-over-decade since 1980. But overall, more than 85 percent of the firms showed steady, rapid declines in productivity while their spending in R&D rose.

The analysis found research productivity for firms fell, on average, about 10 percent per year. It would take 15 times more researchers today than it did 30 years ago to produce the same rate of economic growth.

Source: May Wong for Stanford University

The post It’s now tougher (and more expensive) to find big ideas appeared first on Futurity.

Comparing all the iPhones you can buy right now

We compare the eight iPhones you can buy (or pre-buy) right now

Last week, Apple announced that three new iPhone models will be released this year, bringing the total on the market to eight. Whether you feel spoiled for choice or overwhelmed by that number, New Atlas is comparing the specs for all available models, from the budget iPhone SE to the bank-busting iPhone X, as well as the basic and Plus models of the iPhone 6s, 7 and 8.

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Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij Is Pop’s Secret Ingredient

Once you know what you’re listening for, it’s easy to identify Rostam Batmanglij’s fingerprints on a song. The former keyboardist for the alt-rock band Vampire Weekend is now a producer who has worked with artists including Solange, Frank Ocean, and Kid Cudi. Batmanglij infuses his penchant for uncommon chord progressions and classical music into every album he touches.

The result is fully realized, often startling pop, from Carly Rae Jepsen’s heady single “Warm Blood” to the eerie instrumental theme song for Netflix’s sci-fi show The OA. On September 15, Batmanglij is releasing his first solo album, Half-Light. Here’s how he uses collaboration as a tool to unleash creativity, in himself and in others.

Performers such as Frank Ocean and Danielle Haim have sought out Batmanglij for his unique perspective. [Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images]

Make Downtime Productive

When he’s producing an album, Batmanglij often invites the artist to meet at his Los Angeles home. The cozy surroundings keep things relaxed, but Batmanglij is ready to work at a moment’s notice: The microphones in his home studio are always turned on and ready to record an instrument within 30 seconds.

Blurring the lines between brainstorming and recording, says Batmanglij, is an effective way to ward off writer’s block and self-consciousness. “I like to be able to work quickly, to capture the spark of an idea before it goes out,” he says.

That sometimes means acting on creative impulses even if there’s no studio nearby. Batmanglij recalls one afternoon sitting in his living room with Haim lead guitarist Danielle Haim when they got an idea for an early version of what would become the bluesy “Kept Me Crying,” which appears on the group’s latest album, Something to Tell You. Not wanting to interrupt the moment, they recorded the riffs and lyrics on their iPhones. Two days later, in the more formal studio setting, they were able to tap into their original flow.

Be Ready To Shift Roles

In addition to playing lead guitar and producing all three Vampire Weekend albums, Batmanglij also played the keyboard, banjo, and drums, among other instruments. Once he left the band, he temporarily set those instruments aside.

But last year, Batmanglij ran into Solange and one of her producers, Raphael Saadiq, at a café in Los Angeles. Saadiq said something to Batmanglij that stuck with him: To produce your best work, “you have to be able to shoot from any place on the court.”

When Solange later asked Batmanglij to collaborate, he recognized it as an opportunity to revisit the instrumental fluencies he’d picked up during his Vampire Weekend days and expand his repertoire beyond pop and alt-rock. Batmanglij played the piano, organ, and shaker on Solange’s 2016 track “F.U.B.U.,” which is part of her critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table.

Frank Ocean [Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images]

Don’t Make People Too Comfortable

When Frank Ocean brought Batmanglij a rough, early version of “Ivy,” an R&B track from his 2016 album Blonde, Batmanglij had an idea for the instrumentation that was more guitar-driven than Ocean was accustomed to. He isolated the vocal track, plugged in a guitar, and played a new, more atypical chord progression for Ocean, who was convinced.

The distorted, dreamy electric guitar helped turn “Ivy” into a standout ballad. “Artistically I want us to go somewhere that neither of us has been before,” says Batmanglij. “You’ve got to feel a little uncomfortable to push to that place.”

Music producer Rostam Batmanglij uses collaboration as a tool to unleash creativity. [Photo: Dan Monick]

Keep Something For Yourself

Despite Batmanglij’s success working with other musicians, he recognizes that some creative efforts require solitude. Half-Light represents years of personal material that Batmanglij wrote between Vampire Weekend gigs.

The project also allowed him to experience an artist-producer collaboration from the other side; Wet’s Kelly Zutrau and Dirty Projectors’ Angel Deradoorian both provided vocals and co-wrote songs. In the past year, Batmanglij has started performing shows under the name Rostam and incorporating a string quartet and dancers in some numbers.

“It’s about building off of one another’s energy,” he says. “There’s a joy I get from collaborating with other artists, and there’s a joy I get from making songs on my own.”

Up close and personal with the stunning new Rolls-Royce Phantom

The nose of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom

A new Rolls-Royce Phantom is big news. The company is arguably the most recognizable luxury brand in motoring, and the Phantom is an embodiment of everything it stands for. The latest, the Phantom VIII, is a significant step on from its predecessor, from the way it looks to the luxurious cabin. We donned our finest suits and headed to Rolls-Royce in Melbourne, Australia to take a closer look at the car.

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Hyperloop One challenge outlines 10 high-potential routes

A Hyperloop system would shuttle people and cargo through near-vacuum tubes at around the speed of ...

Implementing a real-world Hyperloop will be a huge undertaking, one that nobody, not even Elon Musk, can do on their own. Transport company Hyperloop One is well aware of this, and that’s why it launched its own XPrize-style competition to draw out the globe’s brightest ideas for the most promising Hyperloop routes. The company has today announced the 10 winners, with potential routes spanning three continents and more than 6,000 km (3,700 mi) worth of track.

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Category: Urban Transport

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Born to Drive turns cars into self-delivering vehicles

Born to Drive uses software to turn cars into self-delivering vehicles

Self-driving cars aren’t quite the novelty they once were, but what about self-delivering cars? That’s the question that Swedish technology firm Semcon is trying to answer with the Born to Drive project. It uses new software to take existing cars and turn them into self-drive vehicles that can steer themselves off the assembly line and through the transportation chain without a human driver.

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Pamela Adlon Talks Mining Her Life For “Better Things” (& Defends Louis C.K.)

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who have no problem delegating tasks and those who know it would be easier if they just did it themselves. The latter type may give off control freak vibes, but that’s exactly what’s needed at times–as Pamela Adlon can attest to with her critically acclaimed FX series Better Things.

Adlon’s own life provides the framework for Better Things: a single mother of three daughters who’s balancing parenting, her acting career, and taking care of her increasingly dependent mother. The semi-autobiographical nature of the series helps explain why she’s so protective of it. Only her longtime collaborator Louis C.K. in on the creative process as the show’s co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer. For the second season, though, Adlon decided to direct everything herself.

“I knew that I was going to direct one or two episodes last season, and then this year it was a no-brainer for me to do it [all],” says Adlon, whose performance in the first season of Better Things earned her an Emmy nomination. “This season was easier because everything flowed through me. There was no committee. We didn’t have to wait. I made the decisions. I chose my frames. I was able to work with my actors. Like I said a million times, being the single mom of three girls is the best kind of boot camp for anything like this.”

Pamela Adlon in “Better Things.” [Photo: Beth Dubber, courtesy of FX]

In fact, Adlon’s jam-packed life is precisely what led her to create Better Things. “I’m fully engaged in everything that I’m doing and I’m living my life very hard with my kids. I cook and I take care of my mom,” Adlon says. “But I see the beauty in everything around me. I always see things like I’m in a movie, but it’s my real life. So it’s probably the natural way that I would end up making a show.”


Related: Inside FX’s “Fearless” Rise To TV Domination


Adlon’s slice-of-life approach to creating Better Things is what makes the show so endearing. It doesn’t try to blow everyday situations into something bigger than what they actually are–it allows the natural humor, heartbreak, and absurdity of life to exist as is.

“I used to say that the log line for my show, if there was one, is ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re too busy to make any other plans,'” she says. “It’s like you think you can make plans, but then some insane, earth-shattering things happen. And then the next day you wake up and it’s just normal life again.”

Adlon and her on-screen kids (Olivia Edward, Mikey Madison, and Hannah Alligood). [Photo: Pamela Littky, courtesy of FX]

As close to her material as Adlon is, she doesn’t downplay Louis C.K.’s influential role as a collaborator. The two have worked together and starred in Louis C.K.’s previous television projects: the short-lived HBO sitcom Lucky Louie and the acclaimed FX series Louie. So when it came time to launch Better Things, she knew who to call. “We speak the same language,” Adlon says.

As for what she thinks of the recent allegations of sexual misconduct on Louis C.K.’s part and whether they have affected her relationship with him, Adlon says, “All I can tell you is that he is the best, most generous, collaborative, brilliant writer in the world,” she says. “And you can ask anybody who works with him that he’s just the best guy. That’s all I have to say.”

Adlon with her “Better Things” daughters. [Photo: Pamela Littky, courtesy of FX]

Running a show that rides parallel to her life has given Adlon some creative catharsis–a process she honed with her father Don Segall, a screenwriter who worked primarily in television, penning scripts for such series as Diff’rent Strokes and The Love Boat.

“From [ages] 11 to 18, it was rocky goings. And then I got out of the house, and my dad and I started working together and we would sit down and record our conversations very similar to the way Louis and I do now,” she says. “We were able to laugh and work through horrible family issues in our writing. It’s an amazingly cathartic thing to be able to make art out of something that feels shitty. It’s one of the greatest gifts of my life right now–that I can tell these stories for my daughters and their friends and my friends.”

Season two of Better Things premieres Thursday, September 14, on FX.

Three Resume Trends That Are Actually Worth Following And Two That Aren’t

In our fast-paced world, trends are constantly coming and going, whether you’re talking about the latest music, fashion, or toys (I’m lookin’ at you, fidget spinners). And this doesn’t just occur in the realm of pop culture–it also occurs in the job seeking and recruiting space. The things that recruiters and hiring managers look for, and the way that candidates try to get their attention, are ever-evolving. So if you don’t keep up, you might be left behind.

This is especially true when it comes to the single most important document in the job search: your resume. You only get one shot for your resume to make an impression, so you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of the hottest trends, and staying away from the ones that are better off ignored. But what exactly does that look like today? Here’s what career experts have to say.

Three Trends To Embrace

1. Short And Sweet

If you got into a routine of sprinkling in filler words and flowery language to help you reach a minimum word count in school, now’s the time to kick the habit. Studies show that recruiters only spend between six and seven seconds on your resume–so don’t waste time writing content they won’t read. But keep in mind that if you’re going to cut down the length of your resume, you need to make every word count.

“Shorter resumes are easier to read but they need to get to the point immediately and with powerful, precise language. Unlike the trend a few years ago to tell a story through countless examples of accomplishments, the goal now is to show what you are qualified to do, why, and how the company will benefit,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.

The exact information you should include, as well as the format, may vary depending on your role, so “get feedback from industry and company insiders who can explain what to include on your resume and how to format the content,” Cohen suggests. “When your resume is shorter AND it gets the message across loud and clear, you are essentially punching above your weight. That is always a desirable theme in a job search: The candidate who offers better value.”

2. Hyperlinks

One easy way to make sure that your resume stays concise but still packs a punch? Providing hyperlinks to relevant information and resources.

“A hyperlink is the equivalent of CliffsNotes for your resume. You have the freedom to reference a much larger and more significant item and to expand on a key point,” Cohen says. “Brevity is the goal for most resumes. An abbreviated message that can be backed up addresses the needs of both the short attention span reader and the reader who wants to dig deeper into your background and qualifications.”


Related: This Is The Part Of Your Resume That Recruiters Look At First 


A couple best practices when including hyperlinks: “Use links appropriately and only to showcase illustrations that support you as a candidate. Make sure that you highlight these links clearly so that the reader of your resume neither ignores or overlooks this valuable information,” Cohen advises.

3. Digital Add-Ons

You might be wondering: Which resources should you be hyperlinking to within your resume?

For starters, you may want to try a video cover letter. “A quick video will capture [recruiters’] attention and leave them learning more about you than they would through those six seconds” spent scanning a resume, Sheth shares. “Applicants should record videos with the intention of showcasing their personality, communication style, and why they are the right person for the job.”

Or, “if you are applying to a role where work product is relevant, like in many creative industries, you can create a digital portfolio of your work and include a link to your portfolio so that recruiters can review it,” Sheth says. “This will show you’re prepared, qualified and will leave a lasting impression.”

Two Trends To Avoid

1. Design Over Functionality

Sure, an eye-popping resume can look good on paper. But if you get too caught up with making a visually appealing resume, you might prevent your resume from ever getting in the hands of a recruiter.

“One of the newest resume trends is using Etsy-styled templates that have a lot of columns and graphic design,” says resume writer and career transition coach Wendi Weiner.

But while “this approach shows off your creative ability and eye for design… it likely won’t make it past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which many companies use as a screening method to weed out resumes that don’t meet specific on-page standards (think keywords, industry buzzwords, and conventional headlines),” shares Zachary Painter, career adviser and hiring manager at ResumeGenius.com.


Related: Three Ways To Add Personality To Your Resume (And Three Ways Not To) 


To get around this, “stick to a sophisticated yet professional template that enables your headlines to stand out–a reader’s eyes naturally gaze at the center of the page, so make sure your headlines are centered in the middle of the page for easy reading. Consider also having a line underneath the headline title (professional experience, education, core skills, etc.) so that the sections of your resume are separated,” Weiner suggests.

On the other hand, if you’re applying for a position in a highly visual field where creative resumes are a boon, take advantage of those hyperlinks again by “providing a link to your portfolio in your online application and on your printed out, physical resume. This will satisfy ATS bots and land safely in the hands of a hiring manager or department head,” Painter says.

2. Skill-Points Systems

It’s no secret that recruiters and hiring managers love when you can quantify your success–but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

“Over the years, the term ‘quantification’ –as it applies to resumes–has gotten taken out of context. Basically, applicants think it’s smart to rate their additional skills on a resume by ranking each skill with a number ranging from one to ten,” Painter says. (E.g. Photoshop: 7/10, Microsoft Word: 4/10, Excel: 8/10).


Related: Career Experts Mercilessly Revised My Entry-Level Resume 


But the problem is that quantifying your skillset is vague and arbitrary — and too many applicants are tempted to give themselves top marks for everything. If you rate every skill as a nine or 10 out of 10, recruiters and hiring managers will probably be skeptical.

“The best solution is to mention that you have experience or familiarity in the additional skills you provide. Go for something like this:

  • Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite
  • Familiar with WordPress
  • Experienced with Javascript, HTML, and CSS languages

This communicates better than a vague ‘skills point system’, and hiring managers will appreciate it more,” Painter says.


This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 

Men’s And Women’s Work Wear You Can Afford With Your Entry-Level Salary

You may associate fall clothes shopping with going back to school, but research shows that August and September are also the months when adults tend to think about refreshing their professional wardrobes.

To help you update (or build) your professional closet, we’ve scoured the market to find workwear staples. We then tested them to make sure that they are well-made and will keep you looking polished from your first meeting to cocktail hour. And good news for those just starting out: Each item on this list is under $100, so you can afford to look professional on an entry-level salary.

I tested all the womenswear, and my colleague, staff writer Cale Weissman, tested all the menswear, then provided detailed notes. Here’s our list.

Menswear

Bonobos: Long, Wrinkle-Free Days

Daily Grind Shirt ($98) and Stretched Washed Chino ($98)

After testing many outfits, Cale liked Bonobos best. Part of the reason for this is that the clothes fit well, which made him look stylish and feel great. Both trousers and shirts are made from wrinkle-free material, which means that at the end of long days running in and out of the office, Cale says he still looked and felt sharp.

The clothes come in a wide range of sizes, plus different fits: “slim,” “tailored,” or “standard.” (Trousers come in the additional “relaxed” fit.) To top it all off, each item comes in a wide range of patterns and colors. The end result is an outfit that looks like it was customized to your body type and style.

However, given that there are so many sizing options, Cale suggests getting fitted by Bonobos beforehand, if you can. The brand has stores, known as Guideshops, in dozens of locations across the country, where you can get fitted for free. “This will save having to return many pairs, which I had to do,” Cale says.

Everlane: Classic Shirts At Unbeatable Prices

Air Oxford ($58) and Slim Fit Poplin ($55)

Everlane stands out for its simplicity. Rather than offering a wide range of options, the brand’s designers curate a classic look, using high quality materials and manufacturing. The style is low-key and muted; they are designed to fit in rather than stand out. “Everlane has a quietness about its style that I’ve always appreciated,” Cale says.

The shirts come in far fewer sizes than Bonobos, but Cale found that both shirts fit him well, once he was able to nail down the right size. The Air Oxford is a classic tailored shirt, but it is made from a breathable and temperature-regulating material. The Slim Fit Poplin is a more relaxed shirt that looked just as good at work as it did on the weekend. “You could wear those clothes anywhere and they would seem appropriate,” Cale says. “People seemed to like those shirts most and gave me many compliments. Which is nice–I love to receive compliments!”

Ministry of Supply: Workwear Of The Future

Future Forward Longsleeve Polo ($90) and Daystarter Band Collar Shirt ($95)

Ministry of Supply is known for experimenting with high-tech materials, many first invented by NASA. We picked two shirts from their collection that we felt could get you through any occasion that pops up in your week.

The Future Forward Longsleeve Polo, for instance, is made of a fabric called Phase Change Materials, which is temperature regulating. It’s a carefully designed to work in many contexts. It comes with buttoned sleeves and a starched collar, so it looks structured enough to be worn in a casual office, but it also easily goes into weekend activities. The Daystarter Band Collar Shirt is a slightly more formal alternative. It comes with a Nehru collar, which adds a stylish flair. While it has a crisp look, it is made from high-tech fabric that is moisture wicking and wrinkle resistant. Both shirts are machine washable.

Cale was impressed by how effectively these shirts managed perspiration. He wore them in the heat of the summer and even on the hottest days, there were never any sweat stains. “A minor miracle for me!” he says.


Related: These 6 Women’s “Work Uniforms” Will Make Your Mornings Easier


Womenswear

Modcloth: Feminine But Professional Work Frocks

So Sixties A-Line Dress ($79.99), Archival Arrival ($89.99), and Outline of Work Midi Dress ($64.99)

If your work closet consists largely of dresses, you can’t go wrong with Modcloth, which is known for its wide selection of frocks. The brand has hundreds of work-appropriate dresses to choose from. In the past, the brand was known for its slightly vintage flair. While some dresses have ’60s or mod flair, many look timeless. The best part is that the vast majority come in at under $100 and they come in a wide range of sizes, from XS to 3X.

We picked out three that would be a fun new seasonal addition to your wardrobe, but also would work in a range of contexts and take you between seasons. In the summer, I wore the Outline of Work dress with platform heels, but on a cooler day, I wore them with knee-high boots and a cardigan. I found that depending on how I styled it, it worked well both in a formal meeting as well as in a more casual setting, like going out for brunch on the weekend.

The Archival Arrival Dress has a secretary bow that gives it a formal edge, but it is made from a stretchy jersey material that makes it very comfortable to wear throughout the day. If you’re in the market for something a little more structured and formal, the So Sixties dress is a perfect fit. It comes in several bright colors, which will add some vibrancy to what might otherwise be a monochromatic fall closet, but thanks to the button at the waist and the pleated skirt, it manages to look formal enough for even the starchiest office.

Aritzia: Elegant Blouses Galore

Tadema ($75), Granados ($98), and Niccolo ($85)

One of my favorite transitional looks is a pair of tight fitting black trousers or jeans, plus an interesting blouse. Artizia is a great one-stop shop for beautiful blouses at reasonable prices. These long-sleeve shirts are great for fall days when it might be too warm for a sweater or blazer, but too chilly for a sundress.

I picked three blouses in muted colors that have interesting architectural flair. The Tadema, for instance, is made from a fluid fabric that comes with a bow that you can tie at the waist. The Granados has a high collar, plus puffed sleeves that give the shirt a nice drape. And the Niccolo has a nice secretary bow on the front that I like to wear long, rather than tied. They all come in beautiful fall colors like dark green and aubergine.

The great thing about all of these shirts is that even though they feel like silk, they are machine washable. They are also generally wrinkle-resistant. I wore them while driving around from interview to interview and the seatbelt didn’t crease them.

J.Crew: Staples With A Twist

No. 2 Pencil Skirt ($79.50), Stretch Perfect Bodysuit ($68), and Martie Slim Crop Pants ($79.50)

If you’re looking to load up on classic year-round items for your work uniform, J.Crew has several great options that are very well designed. The most interesting piece I discovered was the Stretch Perfect Bodysuit. On the surface, it’s the classic white tailored shirt that every woman needs in her closet. But button-down shirts often bunch up when you try to tuck them into your pants. J.Crew solved this problem by making the shirt part of a bodysuit. It looks perfect and unwrinkled when you wear it with jeans or trousers.

If it’s time to stock up on skirts and pants, J.Crew has a couple of key choices. The Martie trousers are carefully designed to look flattering, by flattening the stomach and defining the bottom. And the No.2 Pencil Skirt is made of cotton, but comes with two-way stretch, so it adapts to your body’s movements, rather than wrinkling when you sit down. Both of these come in a wide range of colors, including reds, blues, and hot pinks. These are great everyday clothes that will make getting ready in the morning easier.

In northern China, air pollution cuts years off life expectancy

People in northern China have a reduced life expectancy when compared with people living in the south due to higher concentrations of air pollution, a new study suggests.

The study also outlines a new method researchers developed to calculate the impact of air pollution on life expectancy.

There are currently an estimated 4.5 billion people around the world exposed to levels of particulate air pollution that are at least twice what the World Health Organization considers safe. Yet the impact of sustained exposure to pollution on a person’s life expectancy has largely remained a vexingly unanswered question.

“…the impact on life expectancy in many parts of the world [is] similar to the effects of every man, woman, and child smoking cigarettes for several decades…”

The study finds that a Chinese policy is unintentionally causing people in northern China to live 3.1 years less than people in the south. The study found that this was due to air pollution concentrations that are 46 percent higher in the north than in the south.

The new findings imply that every additional 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter pollution reduces life expectancy by 0.6 years. The elevated mortality is entirely due to an increase in cardiorespiratory deaths, indicating that air pollution is the cause of reduced life expectancies to the north.

“These results greatly strengthen the case that long-term exposure to particulates air pollution causes substantial reductions in life expectancy. They indicate that particulates are the greatest current environmental risk to human health, with the impact on life expectancy in many parts of the world similar to the effects of every man, woman, and child smoking cigarettes for several decades,” says study coauthor Michael Greenstone, director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and a professor in economics.

“The histories of the United States, parts of Europe, Japan, and a handful of other countries teach us that air pollution can be reduced, but it requires robust policy and enforcement,” Greenstone says.

Free coal

The study exploits China’s Huai River policy, which provided free coal to power boilers for winter heating to people living north of the river and provided almost no resources toward heating south of the river. The policy’s partial provision of heating occurred because China did not have enough resources to provide free coal nationwide.

“Unveiling this important information helps build the case for policies that ultimately serve to improve the lives of the Chinese people…”

Additionally, since migration was greatly restricted, people exposed to pollution were generally not able to migrate to less polluted areas. Together, the discrete change in policy at the river’s edge and the migration restrictions provide the basis for a powerful natural experiment that offers an opportunity to isolate the impact of sustained exposure to particulates air pollution from other factors that affect health.

“Unveiling this important information helps build the case for policies that ultimately serve to improve the lives of the Chinese people and the lives of those globally who suffer from high levels of air pollution,” says study coauthor Maigeng Zhou, deputy director of the National Center for Chronic and Noncommunicable Disease Control and Prevention in the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, the study provides solutions to several challenges that have plagued previous research. In particular, prior studies rely on research designs that may be unlikely to isolate the causal effects of air pollution; measure the effect of pollution exposure for relatively short periods of time (e.g., weekly or annually), failing to shed light on the effect of sustained exposure; examine settings with much lower pollution concentrations than those currently faced by billions of people in countries, including China and India, leaving questions about their applicability unanswered; measure effects on mortality rates but leave the full loss of life expectancy unanswered.

“The study’s unique design provides solutions to several challenges that have been difficult to solve,” says coauthor Maoyong Fan, an associate professor at Ball State University. “The Huai River policy also provides a research design that can be used to explore a variety of other questions about the long-run consequences of exposure to high levels of pollution.”

The study follows on an earlier study, conducted by some of the same researchers, which also utilized the unique Huai River design. Despite using data from two separate time periods, both studies revealed the same basic relationship between pollution and life expectancy.

The new study’s more recent data, however, cover a population eight times greater than the previous one. It also provides direct evidence on smaller pollution particles that are more often the subject of environmental regulations.

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“This new study provides an important opportunity to assess the validity of our previous findings. The striking finding is that both studies produced remarkably similar results, increasing our confidence that we have uncovered the causal relationship between particulates air pollution and life expectancy,” says Avraham Ebenstein, a lecturer in the environmental economics and management department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an author of both studies.

Since the earlier paper, China has increased its efforts to confront its air pollution challenge. China is switching its primary source of heating from coal-fired boilers to gas-fired or electric units, and it has shut down many polluting plants. The consequence is that particulate air pollution in some of China’s most polluted cities, such as Beijing, has improved significantly.

“Our findings show that these changes will bring about significant health benefits for the Chinese people in the long run,” says coauthor Guojun He, an assistant professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “If all of China were brought into compliance with its Class I standards for PM10 (40), more than 3.7 billion life-years will be saved.”

The Air Quality-Life Index

Importantly, the results from this paper can be generalized to quantify the number of years that air pollution reduces lifespans around the globe—not just in China. Specifically, Greenstone and his colleagues at EPIC used the finding that an additional 10 micrograms per cubic meter of PM10 reduces life expectancy by 0.6 years to develop a new pollution index, the Air Quality-Life Index.

The index allows users to better understand the impact of air pollution on their lives by calculating how much longer they would live if the pollution in the air they breathe were brought into compliance with national or WHO standards. It also serves as an important complement to the frequently used Air Quality Index, which is a complicated function of air pollution concentrations and does not map directly to long-term human health.

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“The AQLI uses the critical data and information gathered from our China research and applies it to every country, allowing the billions of people around the world who are exposed to high air pollution levels to estimate how much longer they would live if they breathed cleaner air,” said Greenstone.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Vicki Ekstrom High for University of Chicago

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