Every generation or so, the prognosticators come out of the kitchen cabinet to proclaim that a new, golden age of urban America has begun. They certainly did so with the Baby Boom in the late 1970s and early '80s, and the Boomers, after a flirtation with urban living, turned the tables and fueled the greatest suburban expansion of all time. The McMansion was born.
They are doing it again. Almost daily, the drum beats for the return to the cities in the consumer press. A series of recent studies, however, have shown that even college educated millennials are looking forward to owning a home in--how ghastly--the suburbs. Here, Jed Kolko delivers some facts that might serve to better inform the hip urban narrative:
The share of Americans living in urban neighborhoods dropped by 7%, from 21.7% in 2000 to 20.1% in 2014. Even looking at only the densest urban neighborhoods where about one-third of the urban population lives, the share of Americans living in these neighborhoods fell by 5%, from 7.4% in 2000 to 7.0% in 2014. (See note at end of post for details on data, methodology, and definitions.) Headlines about educated young adults flocking to Brooklyn and San Francisco aren’t wrong – but they are far from the whole story and are unrepresentative of broader trends. Other demographic groups are suburbanizing faster than the young and rich are piling in to cities.