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Old Posted Jul 21, 2019, 11:03 PM
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The Future of the City Is Childless

The Future of the City Is Childless


JUL 18, 2019

By Derek Thompson

Read More: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...n-gone/594133/

Quote:
.....

We are supposedly living in the golden age of the American metropolis, with the same story playing out across the country. Dirty and violent downtowns typified by the “mean streets” of the 1970s became clean and safe in the 1990s. Young college graduates flocked to brunchable neighborhoods in the 2000s, and rich companies followed them with downtown offices.

- New York is the poster child of this urban renaissance. But as the city has attracted more wealth, housing prices have soared alongside the skyscrapers, and young families have found staying put with school-age children more difficult. Since 2011, the number of babies born in New York has declined 9 percent in the five boroughs and 15 percent in Manhattan. (At this rate, Manhattan’s infant population will halve in 30 years.) — In that same period, the net number of New York residents leaving the city has more than doubled. There are many reasons New York might be shrinking, but most of them come down to the same unavoidable fact: Raising a family in the city is just too hard. And the same could be said of pretty much every other dense and expensive urban area in the country.

- In high-density cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., no group is growing faster than rich college-educated whites without children, according to Census analysis by the economist Jed Kolko. By contrast, families with children older than 6 are in outright decline in these places. In the biggest picture, it turns out that America’s urban rebirth is missing a key element: births. — Cities were once a place for families of all classes. The “basic custom” of the American city, wrote the urbanist Sam Bass Warner, was a “commitment to familialism.” Today’s cities, however, are decidedly not for children, or for families who want children. As the sociologists Richard Lloyd and Terry Nichols Clark put it, they are “entertainment machines” for the young, rich, and mostly childless.

- And this development has crucial implications not only for the future of American cities, but also for the future of the U.S. economy and American politics. The counties that make up Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia shed a combined 2 million domestic residents from 2010 to 2018. For many years, these cities’ main source of population growth hasn’t been babies or even college graduates; it’s been immigrants. But like an archipelago of Ellis Islands, Manhattan and other wealthy downtown areas have become mere gateways into America and the labor force. — But if big cities are shedding people, they’re growing in other ways—specifically, in wealth and workism. The richest 25 metro areas now account for more than half of the U.S. economy, according to an Axios analysis of government data.

- Rich cities particularly specialize in the new tech economy: Just five counties account for about half of the nation’s internet and web-portal jobs. Toiling to build this metropolitan wealth are young college graduates, many of them childless or without school-age children; that is, workers who are sufficiently unattached to family life that they can pour their lives into their careers. — Cities have effectively traded away their children, swapping capital for kids. College graduates descend into cities, inhale fast-casual meals, emit the fumes of overwork, get washed, and bounce to smaller cities or the suburbs by the time their kids are old enough to spell. It’s a coast-to-coast trend: In Washington, D.C., the overall population has grown more than 20 percent this century, but the number of children under the age of 18 has declined. Meanwhile, San Francisco has the lowest share of children of any of the largest 100 cities in the U.S.

- The modern American city is not a microcosm of life but a microslice of it. It’s becoming an Epcot theme park for childless affluence, where the rich can act like kids without having to actually see any. — It’s incoherent for Americans to talk about equality of opportunity in an economy where high-paying work is concentrated in places, such as San Francisco and Manhattan, where the median home value is at least six times the national average. Widespread economic growth will become ever more difficult in an age of winner-take-all cities. — But the economic consequences of the childless city go deeper. For example, the high cost of urban living may be discouraging some couples from having as many children as they’d prefer. That would mean American cities aren’t just expelling school-age children; they’re actively discouraging them from being born in the first place.

- In 2018, the U.S. fertility rate fell to its all-time low. Without sustained immigration, the U.S. could shrink for the first time since World World I. Underpopulation would be a profound economic problem it’s associated with less dynamism and less productivity and a fiscal catastrophe. The erosion of the working population would threaten one great reward of liberal societies, which is a tax-funded welfare and eldercare state to protect individuals from illness, age, and bad luck. — Finally, childless cities exacerbate the rural-urban conundrum that has come to define American politics. With its rich blue cities and red rural plains, the U.S. has an economy biased toward high-density areas but an electoral system biased toward low-density areas. The discrepancy has the trappings of a constitutional crisis.

- Smaller cities and suburbs might simply be a better place to live and not just for the obvious reason that they’re more cost-friendly for the non-rich. Perhaps parents are clustering in suburbs today for the same reason that companies cluster in rich cities: Doing so is more efficient. Suburbs have more “schools, parks, stroller-friendly areas, restaurants with high chairs, babysitters, [and] large parking spaces for SUV’s,” wrote Conor Sen, an investor and columnist for Bloomberg. It’s akin to a division of labor: America’s rich cities specialize in the young, rich, and childless; America’s suburbs specialize in parents. The childless city may be inescapable.

- In two weeks, as it happens, I’m moving from New York City to Washington, D.C., into a building that was once a women’s hospital. For 150 years, since its founding in 1866, the facility specialized in delivering babies; it saw more than 250,000 new souls brought into the world, including Duke Ellington and Al Gore. The building used to be a piece of history; today it’s a demographic metaphor for the future of the American city: They gutted the maternity ward and put up a condo.

.....



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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2019, 11:18 PM
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the function of cities hasnt changed, our material expectations have. 80 years ago, a family living in manhattan probably lived in a 1 bedroom apartment, 2 if they were better off. my mom was raised in an apartment with my aunt. my grandma and grandpa never lived in anything else. what has changed is our income and space expectations. who is driving this urban renaissance? white suburbanites accustomed to suburban proportions. the expectation that a single person must have at the very minimum a one bedroom apartment is common. a studio is for poor hipsters, not successful ones...theres plenty of room to raise kids in a city, we just became spoiled.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2019, 11:39 PM
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In my little anecdotal corner of family-friendly Chicago, our neighborhood K-8 CPS school just started a $25M expansion because enrollment is bursting at the seams.

My daughter starts kindergarten there next year. Yay, were part of the "problem"!
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Jul 22, 2019 at 1:42 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 3:57 AM
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Well, at least my city/area has a mix of everything
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 12:04 PM
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This phenomenon seems specific to dc and sf.

Dc doesn’t have an adequate public school system while sf is too expensive

Portland is full of kids, Brooklyn as well. Public schools are fine.

* White upper class kids is what the article is about, of course.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 12:40 PM
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Part of the reason urban births are down is because teen births have plummeted. Also, U.S. black and Latino birthrates are now basically the same as white/Asian birthrates, but the steep decline in black/Latino is overrepresented in urban areas.

Also, birthrates have generally held steady in wealthy neighborhoods. Tribeca has one of the highest birthrates in NYC. So the story of urban birthrate decline is largely a story of black/Latino mothers having fewer children, especially at young ages.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 12:48 PM
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Actually, I stand corrected - in NYC, the Hispanic and African American birthrates are now well below that of whites and Asians, when years ago they were much higher. And the NYC teen birthrate has plummeted nearly 60% in the past decade, probably in part because Bloomberg mandated sex ed in schools. Also, abortions have plummeted.

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/down...vs/2017sum.pdf
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 2:04 PM
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This sounds dumb, a functional city cannot be and never will be childless.

Quote:
Smaller cities and suburbs might simply be a better place to live and not just for the obvious reason that they’re more cost-friendly for the non-rich.
LOL no, just no.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 2:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Also, U.S. black and Latino birthrates are now basically the same as white/Asian birthrates, but the steep decline in black/Latino is overrepresented in urban areas.
this is compounded in cities like chicago where not only are birthrates falling among black families, black families are also just leaving the city altogether in droves due to a variety of push and pull factors.

this is how you can have a situation where earlier this decade CPS closed 50 schools across the south and west sides due to falling enrollment, while our neighborhood CPS school on the north side is embarking an a big expansion because the 100 year old school building can no longer reasonably hold all the kids who live in our neighborhood.

chicago's future is less children overall, but it's certainly not gonna be entirely childless in all areas. not by a long shot.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 3:13 PM
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I am interested in when exactly a gentrified urban area "flips" in terms of school enrollment from being non-desirable to desirable.

For example, I've always found it funny Hoboken is still an undesirable place for white yuppies to enroll their kids in school. The city is up to 70% non-Hispanic white and about 9% Asian. Yet the public schools are still majority nonwhite and 47% Latino (the city is only 15% Latino).

At some point it stands to reason that basically all of the poor Latinos and blacks left in Hoboken will have been gentrified out save for those in protected HUD-assisted housing developments. One would presume then white/Asian parents would be more apt to "take a chance" and the demographics would quickly flip, with it becoming a top-performing school district.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 3:50 PM
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^ school "flipping" definitely happens in chicago.

our neighborhood school is a textbook example.



here are the 2019 demographics of our school:

white: 56%
latino: 29%
asian: 4%
black: 3%
other: 8%


and here are the 2004 demographics of our school:

white: 18%
latino: 73%
asian: 4%
black: 5%
"other" wasn't a category that was tracked.



our neighborhood has never been remotely close to 73% latino, but 15 years ago the white families in our neighborhood overwhelmingly sent their kids to catholic school.

now, most white families in the neighborhood feel perfectly comfortable sending their kids to the CPS school, hence one of the big reasons why it's bursting at the seams.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Jul 22, 2019 at 4:54 PM.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 4:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I am interested in when exactly a gentrified urban area "flips" in terms of school enrollment from being non-desirable to desirable.

For example, I've always found it funny Hoboken is still an undesirable place for white yuppies to enroll their kids in school. The city is up to 70% non-Hispanic white and about 9% Asian. Yet the public schools are still majority nonwhite and 47% Latino (the city is only 15% Latino).
I think Hoboken is a bit of an outlier. They have a number of heavily white, high-performing charters that are popular among gentrifying households (which would definitely not be a thing for the same demographic in, say, Brooklyn).

The Hoboken projects, like NYC projects, aren't going anywhere, so I think the town will always retain some lower income black/Latino households in its public schools.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 4:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
^ school "flipping" definitely happens in chicago.

our neighborhood school is a textbook example.



here'e the 2019 demographics of our school:

white: 56%
latino: 29%
asian: 4%
black: 3%
other: 8%


and here are the 2004 demographics of our school:

white: 18%
latino: 73%
asian: 4%
black: 5%
"other" wasn't a category that was tracked.



our neighborhood has never been remotely close to 73% latino, but 15 years ago the white families in our neighborhood overwhelmingly sent their kids to catholic school.

now, most white families in the neighborhood feel perfectly comfortable sending their kids to the CPS school, hence one of the big reasons why it's bursting at the seams.
similar transition occurring in earlier phase at Peirce
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 5:01 PM
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Not responding to stats, Toronto's worst urban mega project, lovingly known as "cityplace/shittyplace" is completing a huge school/community complex.

https://urbantoronto.ca/forum/attach...py-jpg.195415/
Shot by SomeMidTowner
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 5:08 PM
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After having so many acquaintances move out of downtown after having a kid, my wife I and really thought we could be one of the few who could raise a kid downtown (at least for a couple years and move when the second would be a toddler). We had a two bedroom 930ish sq feet condo and thought it would be big enough and the kids could share a room.

The second we got home from the hospital we realized we had made a terrible mistake.

The front hallway would be unpassable due to the stroller and car seat. It was impossible for my wife to haul groceries from the parkade...Our parents would normally need to pay for parking to come visit their grandchild. Complete disaster.

We moved into a house in a neighborhood from the late 1970's era...two story, huge pie lot, attached front garage. life is better. I just built a bed for my daughter from scratch on the driveway, and currently finishing up designs on a playhouse/swing set that I will start building this weekend. cant do that downtown.

Looking back on it now, it was incredibly selfish of us to think we could raise a kid downtown. The things that our daughter enjoys the most....we would have never of had room. Her inside playhouse, the inflatable pool in the backyard...etc. The house is big enough where if our daughters toys are spread out in the family room after we put her to sleep, my wife and I can go watch TV and unwind in the living room without being surrounded by a mess.

If kids are in your future.....do yourself a favor and get into a house with a backyard asap. Moving with a toddler/baby sucks....don't do what we did and think you can get by.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 5:21 PM
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^ i kinda feel sorry for people in cities where the only choices are downtown shoe-boxes or '70s tract homes in the burbs.

thank Pizza God for chicago's almost unbelievable amount of legacy pre-war neighborhood urbansim. the creamy middle that i hold so near and dear to my heart.

my wife and i thought we were gonna stick it out with our first child in our 800 SF one-bedroom downtown highrise condo, but as we started accumulating baby crap, we realized it wasn't gonna work all that well.

so when my wife was 7 months pregnant with our first child, we moved into a 1,600 SF condo in a six flat in one of chicago's gorgeous and leafy and family-friendly city neighborhoods. solid move all around.

after our 2nd was born, we moved again to an even bigger condo in another flat building in another wonderful leafy & family-friendly city neighborhood. i'm EXTREMELY happy with where we ended up.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Jul 22, 2019 at 5:42 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 5:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
^ i kinda feel sorry for people in cities where the only choices are downtown shoe-boxes or '70s tract homes in the burbs.
Growing up I lived in prewar urbanism (sounds like what you're in now) flats in NY, post war crackerbox apartments in Houston, '70s tract homes in the burbs in Houston and then semi country/ semi village back in NY and looking back, I much preferred the first option.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 6:25 PM
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My family's first house was a 1,260 square foot rowhouse in a highly urban and walkable neighborhood (by Pittsburgh standards). I bought it when I was single shortly before my wife and I got engaged. Even though it was a small home, we made it work for some time as a family house. Before our daughter was born, we had the attic completely redone into a finished and climate controlled space, moving up there and setting up the front half of the "great room" as a nursery. As she got bigger, we moved her downstairs into her own room. But once we had our son, we knew we had to move on. There was theoretically another second-floor bedroom, but in truth you needed to walk through it to get to the bathroom, which made it unusable as anything besides an office. Thus we kinda had a countdown to when our son would be aging out of the "nursery" space. Plus my wife honestly has some hoarding tendencies, meaning our tiny house was packed to the gills with stuff I would have thrown away if it was up to me.

Theoretically, we could have easily afforded to remain in our old neighborhood, even though while we were there the neighborhood gentrified and had a huge jump in property values. However, my wife, unlike me, is from Pittsburgh, and was convinced that if two people with a combined salary in the rage of $100,000 buy a home which costs over $250,000, they're going to be "house poor." Thus, we were priced out of the neighborhood.

We ended up landing a few neighborhoods away in a streetcar-suburbanish part of the city. The area I live in now isn't incredibly walkable - it takes about 15 minutes to walk to either of the closest two business districts. However, there's a bus stop literally outside my front door, which makes commuting to work by transit even easier than in my old hood. The detached house (from 1905) we landed in five years ago is about twice as large and arguably has six bedrooms (though we don't use three of them for that) and 2.5 baths. Plus it's pretty historically intact, with hardwood floors, stained glass, original grand entrance stairwell with unpainted woodwork, etc. Small yard (houses eight feet away on either side), and no off-street parking, but I don't really mind about that.

I do miss having commercial amenities closer to my house. Our neighborhood finally got a coffeeshop again after two years, and just has a single mediocre neighborhood bar/restaurant. But honestly as parents we don't utilize that stuff as much, and paying the full premium for a lot of these amenities doesn't seem worth it.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 6:29 PM
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Here's how Sun Belt sees it:

1] Cities are becoming more child-less than they have in the past
Why?
A] Cities are becoming more expensive.
B] Cities are growing older and less diverse.
C] Some parts of some cities are emptying out and therefore the overall student population appears to be dropping, despite some other successful/desireable outliers -- [Steely's situation].

2] Today's young people put off marriage and have kids much later into their mid 30s.
A] They got a whole lot of F'n to do in their 20s.
B] They want to be able to postpone adulthood, drink beer, play corn hole at the local watering hole until 2 am.
C] They have a huge debt burden and can't afford kids, even though they love to point out how successful they are.
D] Some don't want kids -- to SAVE THE EARTH!!! Kids breathe oxygen and produce carbon while consuming natural resources.

3] Those that want kids, have already grown up and left for the suburbs in their mid 20s, where life is more affordable.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2019, 6:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sun Belt View Post
Here's how Sun Belt sees it:

1] Cities are becoming more child-less than they have in the past
Why?
A] Cities are becoming more expensive.
B] Cities are growing older and less diverse.
C] Some parts of some cities are emptying out and therefore the overall student population appears to be dropping, despite some other successful/desirable outliers -- [Steely's situation].
One way to look at things is this: Kids are roommates who can't chip in for rent. I mean seriously - all things considered, having kids ups your need for space, ups your need for bedrooms, and increases other costs (particularly related to day care). As a result of this, you have higher expenses than childless people do at the same income level as yourself, all other things considered. Thus in order to find a neighborhood which meets your price point, you need to move somewhere else - somewhere where you are competing with childless people who make less money than you do for housing units. Most people are unwilling once they have kids to compromise by moving to the "bleeding edge of gentrification" - the areas which are on their way, but haven't quite arrived. So instead you compromise on neighborhoods which are less desirable in other ways (worse transit access, less walkable amenities, etc).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sun Belt View Post
A] They got a whole lot of F'n to do in their 20s.
This one is almost certainly untrue. Young people today are having a lot less sex than they were 20 years ago. Young people now spend a lot more time not in any relationship as opposed to in long-term relationships. And despite what might be thought, overall single people have a lot less sex than those who are committed (at least in the early phases - after 10 years of marriage it's probably about even - heh).
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